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In Soviet Russia Lake Vostock penetrates you
January 20, 2011 6:35 AM   Subscribe

Lake Vostok (previously) is about to be breached by a team of Russian scientists. The ice cores from Vostok Station have given us a continuous record of the earth's climate going back 420,000 years. Some scientists are worried that the breaching of the lake may lead to contamination.

Lake Vostok is the closest terrestrial analogue to the ice covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Many astrobiologists believe that these Jovian and Saturnian moons harbor extremophiles. The lake has been sealed off from the outside world for 14 million years and will give scientists the first opportunity to study lifeforms living under similar conditions to what we may find on the subsurface oceans of Europa, Enceladus, and Ganymede. These oceans are made possible by tidal heating.

Also in the Satunian system of moons is the rocky, atmosphere laden Titan; which some have claimed is a "a strict test for life’s cosmic ubiquity." There is also evidence of the exchange of ejecta, and other material, between the moons of Saturn which adds to the mounting evidence for panspermia. The red rain of Kerala (previously) and (previously) has also been put forward as evidence of cometary panspermia. All of this is leading some astrobiologist to suggest a cold origin of life. This cold origin of life could have also transpired on a snowball earth.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar (40 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
We've seen this movie.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:42 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's also some concern about a Russian probe that might contaminate Phobos.
posted by Artw at 6:46 AM on January 20, 2011


The monolith said all those worlds are ours, 'cept Europa.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:50 AM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I don't see the west putting up the funding to drill there. Maybe if they did they might have a case for waiting.
posted by delmoi at 6:55 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always find it a bit weird when stories about "contamination" come up as a way to criticize the activities of foreigners. It's not like America or Europe hasn't spent plenty of time contaminating valuable and interesting resources both here on Earth and in Space…

I'm sure there is a risk of them contaminating their results and ending up with useless data but I'm yet to see anyone else come up with a better way to get these observations. (Although I haven't looked very hard either.)
posted by public at 6:56 AM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and they stopped using the mechanical drill and switched to a 'thermal lance' for the final decent. The Drill was having a lot of trouble with the ice monocrystals that were from the frozen lake water.

The thing is, though, if there was animal life in the lake, wouldn't it be frozen into the ice monocrystals?
posted by delmoi at 6:59 AM on January 20, 2011


e.g. Earle Holland (author of your "some scientists…" link) has never published a paper AFAICT.
posted by public at 7:00 AM on January 20, 2011


Is it Sci Fi Thriller plot prompt day or something?
posted by The Whelk at 7:02 AM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


*Steps forward, from the shadows*

You do not want to know what is in that lake.

posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:04 AM on January 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


You do not want to know what is in that lake.

Bear pimps.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:11 AM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


You do not want to know what is in that lake.

"What? What will come out no more?!"
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:14 AM on January 20, 2011


The lake may hold traces of ancient microorganisms that could reveal how life on Earth has adapted to extreme conditions.

This is quaint. If the history of drilling is any indication, the concern should be that the lake will contaminate our environment.
posted by three blind mice at 7:22 AM on January 20, 2011


Maybe they'll find the secret Nazi UFO base inside the hollow earth.
posted by longbaugh at 7:23 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shoggoths, I'm calling it now.
posted by empath at 7:29 AM on January 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


сверло малышка, сверло!
posted by longbaugh at 7:33 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]




Vostok / восток means "East" by the way, same as in "Vladivostok", the Vostok missions, and the Vostok Antarctic Research Station.

And yes, shoggoths, hands down.
posted by XMLicious at 7:40 AM on January 20, 2011




I remember the last documentary involving expeditions through Vostock..
posted by FatherDagon at 7:41 AM on January 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Where's The Laundry when you need them?
posted by verb at 7:42 AM on January 20, 2011


(On preview, what FatherDagon said. Hold me, cstross, I'm cold.)
posted by verb at 7:43 AM on January 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Shoggoths, I'm calling it now.
Where's The Laundry when you need them?

Good, I'm not the only person that thought of Metafilter's Own (tm) cstross when Lake Vostock was mentioned.
posted by mrbill at 7:48 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Z҉A҉L҉G҉O̚̕̚ H͈̮̟͎̥͍͌ͤe̪̪̟̗̊ͥ̑͋̚ ̣̭͙̬̃͆̃̊̊ͯC͔͚̥͉̯̗̻̤͋ō̜͎̹͎͙̲͕̯ͫͩ̉͂̄̈̿̉m̱͕̦̹͉̥̤̎ẹ̻͕̯̻ͩ̐ͅͅs̜̠͔̞̏ͦ̇.
posted by LordSludge at 8:24 AM on January 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


"In Soviet Russia Lake Vostock penetrates you"

Really? You really went there? LOL
posted by Xoebe at 9:23 AM on January 20, 2011


"In Soviet Russia Lake Vostock penetrates you"

Really? You really went there? LOL


As far as I'm concerned, that joke reached perfection here. It really never needs to be done again.
posted by empath at 9:33 AM on January 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


Here's the Vegas line on what they'll find in the lake:

Weird Fish - 3:1
Giant Worms - 5:1
Sulfur Bacteria - 5:3
Eldritch Horrors - 12:1
Amy Winehouse's Career - 15:1
God's Car Keys - 40:1
posted by Mister_A at 9:53 AM on January 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Came to post a Lovecraft joke...anyone done that yet? Oh, I...I see. I'm sorry, then. I'll be going now.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:28 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


LOL Bomb disarms you.
posted by Mister_A at 10:48 AM on January 20, 2011


If there aren't telepathic fish with three tails and fluorescent scales that sing and hum when they move, well, I'm gonna be sorely disappointed.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:54 AM on January 20, 2011


As far as I'm concerned, that joke reached perfection here. It really never needs to be done again.

Yeah that one is the win. :/
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:15 AM on January 20, 2011


jimmy hoffa - 100:1
posted by pyramid termite at 11:22 AM on January 20, 2011


From Bklyn, you been watching Ponyo or something?
posted by Mister_A at 11:31 AM on January 20, 2011


I was skeptical that the lake hasn't moved in 14 million years of tectonics and glacial precession and recession. But it looks like Antarctica hasn't really changed much in that time in terms of position, and during the ice ages the ice sheets didn't extend very far. Now I'm hoping that a geologist will help me understand why that is.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:31 AM on January 20, 2011


Well, y'know, it's because Antarctica's on the bottom, and once things get to the bottom they stop moving around. It's like if you throw a cat in a burlap bag, it goes to the bottom and stops moving around. Er... better make that a dead cat in a bag.

I am not a geologist.
posted by XMLicious at 11:58 AM on January 20, 2011


I suppose the research is being done responsibly and all that, but isn't it a little dispiriting how the motto of the human race seems to be 'leave nothing unfucked with'?
posted by Segundus at 1:43 PM on January 20, 2011


We seem to leave the deepest ocean pits pretty much alone. We've only entered Challenger Deep a few times.
posted by ymgve at 2:48 PM on January 20, 2011


That would be because of BLUE HADES and the Benthic Treaty, to continue the Stross theme...
posted by Artw at 3:21 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


But how is that ice in a glass of Laphroaig?
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:39 PM on January 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


We seem to leave the deepest ocean pits pretty much alone. We've only entered Challenger Deep a few times.

Things can go wrong very quickly when we decide to explore the depths of the oceans...just ask Ed Harris.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:04 PM on January 20, 2011


As far as I'm concerned, that joke reached perfection here.

OMFG.

That line wrapped wrong's integer and rolled over into win.
posted by eriko at 8:50 PM on January 20, 2011


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