Extreme Engineering in Antarctica
Jan. 15, 2012--
Engineers with British Antarctic Survey have now made it possible to go where no human has gone before: a mile down through solid ice to a buried lake that could harbor life forms never seen before and promises to reveal vital clues to past climate change.
SCIENCE CHANNEL VIDEO: Ice King
Enduring whipping winds and temperatures of minus 35 degrees Celsius (not counting the wind chill), the engineers used powerful tractor-trains to transport nearly 70 metric tons of drilling equipment across Antarctica's ice, over deep snow and steep mountain passes, to one of the most remote and hostile locations on the planet.
The target of this grueling journey: a spot on the ice high above Lake Ellsworth, a mysterious and untouched pocket of liquid water deep inside the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
Now that the equipment is in place, a research team will return to in November to drill a three-kilometer borehole into Lake Ellsworth to collect water and sediment. If they succeed, Ellsworth will become the first of Antarctica's 387 known subglacial lakes to be measured and sampled directly.