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Science News

Copyright: NASA

Picture Info

Radar image of Lake Vostok

Source article

Nature News

Published By

Dr. Dick van der Wateren



Antarctica, drilling, Vostok

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Update: So close and yet so far away?

09.02.2011, Age: 3912 days

Lake Vostok drilling team was pulled out on the last flight from the ice. The last 20 metres of drilling to reach the subglacial lake will have to wait until the next Antarctic summer season.

Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) has been drilling in the ice covering the Antarctic Lake Vostok for over a decade. Working in shifts, they lately have been drilling 24 hours a day. Drilling stopped on 5 February at a depth of 3720.47 metres - 29.53 metres short. The Russians were running out of time since they had to leave Vostok Station on February 6, just before the Antarctic winter kicks in. Staying longer was no option, as deteriorating weather conditions would prevent a safe landing and take off for their getaway airplane. Drilling will resume in December this year.

The drilling team now has another ten months to develop a safe plan to sample the subglacial lake without contaminating it.

New Scientist covered the Vostok drilling program last month, of which we published an overview on Cosis News. Back then, Yves Frenot of the French Polar Institute Paul Emile Victor in Brest, France, already showed some scepticism. He told the popular science magazine that he doubted the Russians will penetrate the lake during this Antarcric summer.

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