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Al Gagnon (left) and SALSA Marine Techs Michael Tepper-Rasmussen and Jack Greenberg (center and right) are testing the WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) Gravity Corer that will be used to collect 10-foot and 20-foot sediment cores from Mercer Subglacial More. Scientists in Antarctica have finally buried a mysterious lake buried under more than 3,500 meters of ice in an effort to find out if life exists there.
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Researchers in Antarctica have revealed the first glimpse of a mysterious Antarctic lake & twice the size of Manhattan & # 39; buried under 3,500 feet of ice that could hold on to life.

Mercer Subglacial Lake is a hydraulically active lake that lies more than 1000 meters below the Whillans Ice Plain, a fast-moving part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Earlier this year, researchers started drilling in the lake for the first time and have now revealed that they have found signs of life.

The team has unveiled the first video of the descent into the huge borehole.

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Scroll down for more video

The video reveals the 3500 foot well in Mercer Subglacial Lake, a hydraulically active lake that lies more than 1,000 meters below the Whillans Ice Plain, a fast-moving part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

& # 39; Follow us through the SALSA borehole as we travel approximately 1100 meters / 3500 feet down through the Antarctic ice sheet and to Mercer Subglacial Lake! & # 39; said the team on Instagram.

& # 39; The UV collar at the top of the borehole burns and irradiation sources are irradiated.

& # 39; Once at the lake we see the transition between the lake water and the bottom of the ice sheet. & # 39;

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According to Nature, researchers found the remains of crustaceans and a tardigrade, or & # 39; water bear & # 39; in the icy depths. They even say that life can still exist there.

The discovery of the animals was & completely unexpected & David Harwood, a micro-paleontologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who is part of the expedition – known as SALSA (Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access), told Nature.

Al Gagnon (left) and SALSA Marine Techs Michael Tepper-Rasmussen and Jack Greenberg (center and right) are testing the WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) Gravity Corer that will be used to collect 10-foot and 20-foot sediment cores from Mercer Subglacial More. Scientists in Antarctica have finally buried a mysterious lake buried under more than 3,500 meters of ice in an effort to find out if life exists there.

Al Gagnon (left) and SALSA Marine Techs Michael Tepper-Rasmussen and Jack Greenberg (center and right) are testing the WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) Gravity Corer that will be used to collect 10-foot and 20-foot sediment cores from Mercer Subglacial More. Scientists in Antarctica have finally buried a mysterious lake buried under more than 3,500 meters of ice in an effort to find out if life exists there.

WHAT IS LAKE MERCER?

The pool of water, known as Subglacial Lake Mercer, covers 160 square kilometers, twice as large as Manhattan.

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It can be 10-15 meters deep

Despite temperatures likely to remain below 0 ° C, the lake does not freeze due to the intense pressure of the ice above it.

Antarctica hides more than 400 lakes under the ice

The team is not sure how the creatures got there, but one theory is that they were ponds and streams in the Transantarctic Mountains 50 km away during short warm periods that occurred in the last 10,000 years or 120,000 years ago, and that somwhow was transported to Mercer Lake.

However, when the climate cooled, the animals remained trapped in an ice grave.

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The puddle of water, known as Subglacial Lake Mercer, measures nearly 62 square miles, was discovered via satellite images more than a decade ago, but has never been investigated.

It is one of the 400 lakes under the Antarctic ice – and experts say that any life there could evoke hope of finding similar organisms deep in Mars or the ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

The team is now planning to sequence pieces of DNA from the carcasses to determine whether the animals are salt or freshwater species.

It can also reveal whether they survived in the underwater environment when the ice returned to lock them up.

The Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access (SALSA) team said it took two days of drilling to reach the Mercer Subglacial Lake on December 26.

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The team melted away through a huge frozen river with a high-pressure hot water drill.

& # 39; After four days of problem-solving components that broke sustained wear from two winters on ice, the drilling team began drilling the main drill on the evening of December 23 and reached more quickly than expected at 10.30 p.m. on December 26 with a borehole depth of 1084 meters, & # 39; said it.

Lead drill Dennis Duling (right) and PI Brent Christner (left) with the hot water drilling moments before it began its 4,000-meter journey down to Mercer Subglacial Lake

Lead drill Dennis Duling (right) and PI Brent Christner (left) with the hot water drilling moments before it began its 4,000-meter journey down to Mercer Subglacial Lake

Lead drill Dennis Duling (right) and PI Brent Christner (left) with the hot water drilling moments before it began its 4,000-meter journey down to Mercer Subglacial Lake

A team of researchers - including 45 scientists, borers and other staff - with the organization were able to send an instrument through a borehole the next day

A team of researchers - including 45 scientists, borers and other staff - with the organization were able to send an instrument through a borehole the next day

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A team of researchers – including 45 scientists, borers and other staff – with the organization were able to send an instrument through a borehole the next day

The puddle of water, known as Subglacial Lake Mercer, measuring nearly 62 square miles, was discovered by satellite imagery more than a decade ago, but has never been investigated.

The puddle of water, known as Subglacial Lake Mercer, measuring nearly 62 square miles, was discovered by satellite imagery more than a decade ago, but has never been investigated.

The puddle of water, known as Subglacial Lake Mercer, measuring nearly 62 square miles, was discovered by satellite imagery more than a decade ago, but has never been investigated.

A team of researchers – including 45 scientists, borers and other staff – were able to send an instrument down a borehole with the organization.

They will also lower a remotely operated vehicle into the hole to capture more footage and take more extensive measurements.

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It is hoped that the three video cameras & # 39; s can make the submersible photos of animals that live in the dark water.

& # 39; We don't know what will be & # 39 ;, John Priscu, an ecologist at Montana State University in Bozeman and leader of the project told Nature.

& # 39; That makes it so fun. & # 39;

Some researchers drilled in 2013 in a nearby, smaller subglacial lake called Lake Whillans and found that it was full of microbes.

The group plans to study the depth, temperature and cleanliness of the lake in the coming days.

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Part of the drilling process involves sampling the drilling water to test its cleanliness.

The water has been tested twice so far and both tests showed that the water was & # 39; as clean as filtered water can get & # 39 ;, in the words of SALSA PI Brent Christner.

WHAT ARE TARDIGRADES?

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are considered the most indestructible animals in the world.

These small, segmented creatures come in many forms – there are more than 900 species – and can be found all over the world, from the highest mountains to the deepest oceans.

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are considered the most indestructible animals in the world.

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are considered the most indestructible animals in the world.

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Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are considered the most indestructible animals in the world.

They have eight legs (four pairs) and each leg has four to eight claws that resemble the claws of a bear.

Boil the 1 mm creatures, freeze them, dry them, expose them to radiation and they are so resilient that they still live 200 years later.

An illustration of a tardigrade (water bear) is shown

An illustration of a tardigrade (water bear) is shown

An illustration of a tardigrade (water bear) is shown

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Water bears can live through temperatures as low as -457 degrees, heat as high as 357 degrees, and 5,700 shades of radiation, when 10-20 grays would kill humans and most other animals.

Tardi grades have been in existence for 530 million years and have survived the dinosaurs.

The animals can also live without water for a decade and even survive in space.

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