SETI [Fwd: [seti] Voyage to the bottom of the Antarctic Lake]


Robert Owen (rowen@technologist.com)
Wed, 22 Sep 1999 21:16:41 -0400


Larry Klaes wrote:

> From: Larry Klaes <lklaes@bbn.com>
>
> >From: james.hewes@barclays.co.uk
> >X-Authentication-Warning: klx.com: Host mailgate.barclays.co.uk
> [193.128.3.20] claimed to be porthos-dmz.barclays.co.uk
> >X-OpenMail-Hops: 2
> >Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 08:57:17 +0100
> >To: europa@klx.com
> >Sender: owner-europa@klx.com
> >Reply-To: europa@klx.com
> >
> >The following article appeared in the Daily Telegraph today, I have
> >copied this version from the Electronic Telegraph (on-line version of
> >the newspaper). Thought you might be interested.
> >
> >Voyage to the bottom of the Antarctic Lake
> > By Roger Highfield
> >
> > SCIENTISTS are to explore one
> >of the world's last uncharted natural
> > wonders, a lake trapped
> >beneath the Antarctic ice.
> >
> > Eighty scientists from 14
> >countries will meet in Cambridge next week to
> > discuss how to study the
> >strange life expected to lurk in Lake Vostok, a body
> > of water the size of Lake
> >Ontario resting more than two miles under the East
> > Antarctic ice cap. The lake is
> >one of the world's 10 largest and one of about
> > 80 lakes that underlie 10 per
> >cent of the ice sheet of Antarctica.
> >
> > Lake Vostok formed as a result
> >of the combination of overlying pressure of
> > ice and heat from the Earth's
> >core. It fascinates scientists because it appears
> > to have been isolated for
> >millions of years, providing an opportunity for life to
> > develop along a separate
> >evolutionary path.
> >
> > Micro-organisms that have been
> >isolated for between one and 40 million
> > years may be found in its
> >sediments and water, potentially yielding promising
> > new enzymes or antibiotics,
> >and offering views of how ancient and
> > contemporary microbes differ,
> >says Cynan Ellis-Evans, who is organising the
> > conference at Lucy Cavendish
> >College.
> >
> > Dr Ellis-Evans, a
> >microbiologist with the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge,
> > said the conditions in the
> >lake are probably too barren and cold - sub-zero -
> > for larger organisms to
> >evolve. "It could be one of the most extreme, nutrient
> > poor, permanently pressurised,
> >permanently cold, permanently dark
> > environments on the planet."
> >This would lead to slow-growing microbes that
> > are adapted to a life of
> >starvation. However, if a volcanic or hot spring system
> > pumped in energy, a greater
> >diversity of creatures may be present.
> >
> > Lake Vostok is likely to be
> >the oldest of all the "sub-glacial" ice lakes because
> > of its size. If it has been
> >isolated for 40 million years, there would have been
> > enough time for unique
> >creatures to evolve, as opposed to creatures that have
> > adapted to a new environment.
> >The Antarctic studies may be a prelude to
> > similar missions elsewhere in
> >our solar system, notably to Jupiter's moon
> > Europa. Nasa regards the
> >Vostok mission as a testbed for the search for alien
> > life on the oceans thought to
> >exist on Europa.
> >
> > The Vostok exploration would
> >take place in the next five years. The
> > exploration of Europa would be
> >in a series of missions beginning in 2003 and
> > lasting for 15 years. Dr
> >Ellis-Evans said: "All the Nasa people I am talking to
> > are very enthusiastic about an
> >ice penetration mission in 2015. I have no
> > problem with the basic idea
> >that there may be microbial life somewhere like
> > Europa as good life markers
> >exist there, notably liquid water, organic
> > molecules and chemical energy
> >sources."
> >
> > The first entry of a probe
> >into Lake Vostok will require extraordinary
> > precautions to ensure that the
> >vehicle and its instruments are clean, so as not
> > to contaminate the pristine
> >lake. One suggestion is to use a Cryobot, a 10ft
> > 6in pencil-shaped device with
> >a heated tip that unspools a cable carrying
> > power and a fibre-optic video
> >and data cable.
> >
> > The Cryobot splits into two
> >under the ice and the top half stays at the
> > ice-water interface to hunt
> >for life. The lower part (the point of the pencil)
> > continues down a smaller cable
> >until it hits the sediment at the bottom, where
> > it will also search for life
> >and release a Hydrobot, a tiny submarine equipped
> > with sonar and a camera. The
> >Hydrobot rises like a soap bubble, reporting
> > what it sees above and below it
> >
> > Copyright of Telegraph Group
> >Limited 1999.
> >Regards,
> >
> >James Hewes.
> >
> >Internet communications are not secure and therefore the Barclays Group does
> >not accept legal responsibility for the contents of this message. Any views
> >or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
> >represent those of the Barclays Group.
> >
> >
> >
>
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--
=======================
Robert M. Owen
Director
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA
=======================



This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Sun Oct 10 1999 - 15:46:36 PDT