Cold Call; April 2012; Scientific American Magazine; by Caleb A. Scharf; 1 Page(s)
Far below the surface of the central East Antarctic ice sheet is a body of water 160 miles long by 30 miles across known as Lake Vostok. The Vostok research station above it, for which it was named, was built by the former Soviet Union in 1957 and is now operated by Russia. Even by Antarctic standards, it is a brutal place, with the dubious honor of holding the record for the lowest measured temperature anywhere on the planet, a mind- (if not body-) numbing –129 degrees Fahrenheit (–89 degrees Celsius).
For the past 23 years, with a pause between 1998 and 2004, a hole has been gradually drilled down from this location into the ancient layers of ice. Hints that there could be a vast subsurface body of water arose in the 1950s and 1960s. Ground-penetrating radar later confirmed these suggestions, and Lake Vostok, with its 1,300 cubic miles of liquid water, was revealed some two and a half miles below the ice.