A team of Russian scientists has successfully retrieved its first sample from Antarctica's 20-million-year-old Lake Vostok, which is buried under nearly 4000 meters of ice.
The team, from Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, had completed drilling to the surface of the lake in February 2012. To prevent contamination during sampling, the scientists devised a plan to drill just to the lake's surface, but then allow the pressurized lake water to rise into the borehole and freeze there. They returned this Antarctic summer to retrieve the frozen core—and on 10 January, the team told Ria Novosti, the researchers collected their prize.
"The first core of transparent lake ice, 2 meters long, was obtained on January 10 at a depth of 3,406 meters," declared the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in a statement. "Inside it was a vertical channel filled with white bubble-rich ice."
Next up: Analysis of the core itself, which many hope will contain evidence of microbial life.