Scientists Search for Life Below Mysterious Mercer Subglacial Lake

first_imgStay on target While people were enjoying Christmas festivities, a team of scientists attempted to drill into the mysterious Mercer Subglacial Lake in Antarctica — and they did it right before the New Year.On Friday, the Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access (SALSA) team reached the Mercer Subglacial Lake after using a high-pressure drill to melt through the ice, SALSA said a press release.Last week, the Drill Team began drilling the main borehole on Dec. 23 and punctured the Mercer Subglacial Lake on Dec. 26. With a high-pressure drill, the team reached a borehole depth of 1,084 meters, and then smoothed the borehole to send instruments down.On Dec. 27, the team submerged its first instrument into the Mercer Subglacial Lake, a Deep SCINI Clump Weight that measured the lake’s conductivity, depth, and temperature, and captured footage of the lake’s interior. With this information, the team can explore the water quality of the lake, and if bacteria and other organisms live below its surface.Drilling into this massive, icy lake isn’t an easy process. The drill water has to be sampled to determine if it’s clean enough for samples. The team said the water has been tested twice, and SALSA’s PI Brent Christner said, it’s “as clean as filtered water can get.” Once testing is completed, the drill water is run through filters that capture 99.9 percent of bacteria and particles in the lake.When the team’s drill punctured the lake’s ice sheet, only a small amount of drill water mixed into the lake. Even though very little drill water will come into contact with the lake’s water, the team is still taking precautions to execute clean access into the Mercer Subglacial Lake.“We don’t know what we’ll find,” John Priscu, a biogeochemist at Montana State University and chief scientist for SALSA, told Gizmodo via satellite phone from the SALSA drill camp. “We’re just learning, it’s only the second time that this has been done.”More on Coast Has More Ocean Trash Than Any Other Gulf State, Study FindsNew Beetle Species Named After ‘Game of Thrones’ DragonsNASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Is Set for Ultimate Thule Flyby Watch: Dolphin Leaps Feet Away From Unsuspecting SurferNASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This Weekend last_img

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