Posted for Quirin Schiermeier
Russia has postponed for another year plans to drill into sub-glacial Lake Vostok in Antarctica. Entry into the uniquely pristine lake 3,750 metres below the Antarctic ice sheet is now planned for the 2010-2011 drilling season, Valery Lukin, director of the Russian Antarctic Expedition, told Nature in an email.
During the 2008-2009 drilling season the Russian crew made an unsuccessful attempt to recover from the borehole bottom at 3,367 metres a drill that had been damaged during an accident in October 2007 (see: Russia delays Lake Vostok drill, 16 July 2008).
“All attempts to extract the drill have failed,” says Lukin. “On 20 January 2009 our drillers have made a decision to change the direction of drilling beginning from a depth of 3,590 metres.”
Seasonal operations at Russia’s Vostok station in East Antarctica will resume in late November, and continue until around early February when temperatures usually drop below levels at which aircraft can safely operate. The Russian drillers hope to reach a depth of around 3,680 metres by the end of the season.
Image: Lake Vostok / NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Canadian Space Agency/RADARSAT International Inc.