Scientists are investigating Lake Vida, a 3-mile-long saltwater lake in Antarctica topped with ice that’s been frozen for 2,800 years. They’re especially interested in the microbes in the lake, which are in liquid water under 62 feet of ice, and could be a type of bacteria completely unknown in our modern world. The water where they live has remained liquid because it is seven times saltier than seawater and doesn’t freeze at Antarctic temperatures.
They took samples of the ice and using radiocarbon dating, dated the sediments found in the ice cores back 2,800 years. When the sediments were thawed, they discovered microorganisms which they successfully revived. John Priscu says, “?The cold temperature preserves DNA extremely well making them perfect ‘ice museums’ for the study of ancient DNA.” This means that the lake itself may contain life that?s almost 3,000 years old.
Dominic Hodgson says, “Life can be locked up in ice for many thousands of years and cells can survive these low temperatures, and once conditions are right they snap out of their frozen states and start photosynthesizing again. This is beyond what scientists thought a few decades ago.” This means could still be life underneath the surface of Mars.
Peter Doran says, “Mars is believed to have a water-rich past, and if life developed, a Lake Vida-type ecosystem may have been the final niche for life on Mars before the water bodies froze solid.”
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