Piercing a buried polar lake

Researchers in Antarctica drilled through a half-mile of ice to reach water that hasn’t had contact with the atmosphere for thousands of years.

By Janet Raloff, 17:48 PM January 29, 2013


This 1,000-meter hose — spooled onto an enormous and very heavy container — was used as a drill to pierce deeply through Antarctica’s ice. Credit: J. Raloff/Science News for Kids

This map of Antarctica shows where the WISSARD program — to drill into Lake Whillans — is located. McMurdo is the settlement where most U.S. scientists stay in Antarctica when they aren’t in tent communities on “the ice.” Credit: WISSARD/NSF

In the field last December, Frank Rack surveyed the mobile science labs that support his team’s new hot-water drill. Credit: J. Raloff/Science News for Kids

Jill Mikucki offered a tour of the mobile biology lab that scientists are now using to study samples from Lake Whillans. These samples might point to microbial life far beneath Antarctica’s ice. Credit: J. Raloff/Science News for Kids



This is the first in a series of stories that are based in part on reporting in Antarctica by the editor of Science News for Kids. Support for the Antarctica project was provided by the National Science Foundation and contributions to a Kickstarter fundraising initiative.


Note: This story was updated on Feb. 1, 2013


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