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British mission to find signs of life beneath Antarctic lake called off

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by micropage7, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. micropage7

    micropage7

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    A daring British mission to drill through almost 2 miles of Antarctic ice to a lake cut off for almost hundreds of thousands of years has been called off.
    [​IMG]

    The British Antarctic survey team had hoped to bore through 1.8 miles of ice using near-boiling water to pierce Lake Ellsworth, untouched for around half a million years.

    In one of the most ambitious British scientific projects in recent times, the hope had been to investigate early life forms in extreme conditions of pressure and temperature. The findings could have contributed to life theories on distant planets and moons, such as Jupiter's natural satellite Europa. The team had also intended to chart the continent's past climates via the lake's sediments.

    But they were forced to call off the mission in the early hours of Christmas Day after failing to connect the main borehole with a parallel hole intended to recover drilling water, despite 20 hours of repeated attempts.
    The failure of the £8 million British project clears the way for US and Russian teams to take the lead.

    The US team is aiming to start drilling in Lake Whillans, one of 360 known sub-glacial lakes in Antarctica, in January or February

    Russia succeeded in reaching Lake Vostok through 3,769 metres (12,365 ft) of solid ice to early in 2012. But some scientists believe their samples may have been contaminated by drilling fluids.

    In the British attempt, too much water and fuel was spent in seeking to make the bore hole connection 300m under the ice, meaning even if the link was made the rest of the mission was no longer viable.

    "It will take a season or two to get all of our equipment out of Antarctica and back to the UK, so at a minimum we're looking at three to four, maybe five years (for a repeat attempt)," Martin Siegert, principal investigator from the University of Bristol, told the BBC.
    Despite the huge difficulties of working in the region, he remained optimistic, saying: "I remain confident that we will unlock the secrets of Lake Ellsworth in coming seasons."

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9768363/British-mission-to-find-signs-of-life-beneath-Antarctic-lake-called-off.html
  2. 3870x2

    3870x2

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    Everyone knows that you don't dig straight down. Apparently these guys have never played minecraft.
    Tensa Zangetsu and digibucc say thanks.
  3. Chevalr1c

    Chevalr1c

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    ROFL! Good one 3870x2. :)
    Crunching for Team TPU
  4. Morgoth

    Morgoth

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    why not drill with a block of solid magnesium? or hot glowing uranium XD
  5. 3870x2

    3870x2

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    Lets take all the nukes we didn't find in Iraq and drop them down there.
    Tensa Zangetsu and ALMOSTunseen say thanks.

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