Over the holy period of the winter celebrations, a team of 50 scientists along with support staff and drillers was keen on reaching Antarctic subglacial lake for just the second time in human history by punching through nearly 4,000 feet of ice. The mission was accomplished.
The Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access (SALSA) team announced on Friday that the Lake Mercer had been reached by them using a high-pressure, hot-water drill to melt their way through the gigantic frozen river. As it is one of the most isolated ecosystems on Earth, it is an excellent opportunity for scientists to study its chemistry and biology.
When the Lake Whillans was discovered in 2013, a subglacial one as well, scientists discovered that the microbial life under there is extremely diverse due to the closed environment and lack of particular sources.
According to a biogeochemist at Montana State University and chief scientist for SALSA, John Priscu, the scientists are not sure of what they will find. He also told Earther via satellite phone from the SALSA drill camp on the Whillans Ice Plain that they are currently learning as it is the second time such an event happens.
The mission started on 18th of December when the supplies were being brought to the camp. Part of the team was Priscu, two other SALSA science team scientists, two marine technicians, and three drillers. The rest followed.
Based on the last blog post from SALSA, we can say that the drilling began on the evening of 23rd of December, at least the significant part. The team reached the lake on 26th of December due to the thinks proceeding smoothly. All happened after the team drilled to a depth of 1,084 meters (3,556 feet).