Microbes found in Antarctic lake beneath a mile of ice

By on September 4, 2014

A student tests the Micro-Submersible Lake Exploration Device used to access Antarctic subglacial Lake Whillans (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Researchers have removed mineral-eating microbes from Lake Whillans in Antarctica, according to National Geographic Magazine. The lake is buried nearly a mile below the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Previous studies purporting to have found similar microbes were discounted because the samples were tainted, so the scientists took additional precautions to preserve the integrity of the sample. The samples were retrieved in 2013 but required over a year’s worth of study to prove that the microbes existed naturally in the lake.

This discovery lends further credibility to the possibility of life existing in space, as these microbes don’t use the sun or organic nutrients as energy sources. The researchers plan to return to the lake in January 2015 to see if they can find different creatures.

Image: A student tests the Micro-Submersible Lake Exploration Device used to access Antarctic subglacial Lake Whillans (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

 

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