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Planetary Protection: April 2013


For the past few years, a research team in Antarctica has been drilling through several miles of ice in an effort to reach Lake Vostok. Lake Vostok is the largest of a number of bodies of fresh water trapped deep in the ice and isolated from the rest of Earth's biosphere for millions of years. What forms of life may exist in Lake Vostok are of interest not only to terrestrial ecologists but also astrobiologists given that moons such as Europa, Ganymede, and Enceladus may have water oceans underneath their outer icy surfaces.