Antarctic lake drilling mission edges closer

from BBC

By David Shukman Environment & science correspondent, BBC News

15 January 2012 Last updated at 19:15 ET

An ambitious plan to explore a vast lake trapped beneath the Antarctic ice is a step closer to becoming reality.

An advance party has braved freezing temperatures to set up vital equipment and supplies at Lake Ellsworth.

The project by UK engineers to drill through the two-mile-thick ice-sheet is scheduled for the end of the year.

The aims are to search for signs of life in the waters and to extract sediments from the lake floor to better understand the past climate.

It is is one of the most challenging British scientific projects for years.

The task is so complex that preparations have had to be spread over two Antarctic summer seasons.

In the first phase a “tractor train” has just hauled nearly 70 tonnes of equipment from an ice runway at Union Glacier through the Ellsworth mountains to the lake site. . . . Read complete report

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