January 30, 2013

WISSARD Team Finds First Signs of Microbial Life in an Antarctica Subglacial Lake

Scientists drilling in Lake Whillans, a remote body of water buried 2,600 feet below the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, have discovered evidence of living bacteria. The finding follows the recent discovery that microorganisms live within clouds in the troposphere, suggesting that life is capable of thriving in an even broader range of extreme environments than scientists previously thought possible, broadening the list of potential extraterrestrial habitats, including Europa and Enceladus which are also thought to harbor oceans of liquid water. The half mile of glacial ice atop Lake Whillans is from snow that fell onto Antarctica thousands of years ago. A sensor lowered down the borehole this week showed that dissolved minerals were far more abundant in the lake than previously thought.

“The fact that we see high concentrations is suggestive that there’s some interesting water-rock-microbe interaction that’s going on,” says Andrew Mitchell, a microbial geochemist from Aberystwyth University in the UK who is working this month at Lake Whillans.

Read more: WISSARD Team Finds First Signs of Microbial Life in an Antarctica Subglacial Lake — Daily Galaxy.

Home           Top of page