It was announced in the Washington Post this week that Russian scientists had drilled over 2 miles through the Antarctic ice to an ancient lake (Lake Vostok), buried under the ice for over 30-million years.
“Russian scientists briefly pierced the two-mile-thick veil over a freshwater lake hidden beneath Antarctica’s ice sheet for millions of years, polar researchers announced Wednesday.
Scientists hope samples of Lake Vostok, a body the size of Lake Ontario, will yield signs of previously undiscovered life and new clues about the history of the planet. The lake is believed to have been covered by ice for up to 30 million years.”
They go on to add later,
“There also could be living microorganism living off of previously stored energy from sediments,”
Europa, one of the Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter, is completely covered by ice. There is mounting evidence for an ocean underneath the ice. Plans are underway to send a probe that can make a hole in the ice and look for life in Europa’s ocean. The Russian project, and whether or not life is found under over 2 miles of ice, may be something of a warm-up to, and possibly motivation for, a future Europa mission. If life is found under the antarctic ice, it would really spark the imagination regarding possible life on Europa.