A research station's unique design allows humans to live comfortably in one of the planet's harshest environments.
It was a scientific breakthrough when a Russian team broke through some 12,365 ft. of ice to tap Lake Vostok, buried under Antarctica for 14 million years last February. The U.S. and Great Britain soon followed with efforts to tap into similar buried lakes in the hopes of finding ancient forms of life. Sadly on Christmas Day, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) announced the shuttering of their operations due to technical problems.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes is one of the last of the old-school explorers. He's spent more time traipsing around the Arctic and Antarctic than a penguin in a polar bear suit, and at the age of 68, he's now preparing to do something that's never been done before (because it's utterly crazy): crossing the entire continent of Antarctica, on foot, in the dead of winter.
The Smithsonian collects a lot of things — from Fonzie's jacket to ancient Chinese pottery. It turns out it also collects and studies meteorites in a sanitized facility outside of Washington, DC. The team there preserves an ultra-clean environment to prevent contamination while analyzing space rocks harvested from Antarctica.
The aliens invading Antarctica are not the outer-space variety, but they definitely are green. Scientists are reporting that one day soon Antarctica could become host to a variety of foreign plant and animal fauna thanks to a mix of global warming and hidden seeds and other material brought in by scientists and visitors.
Antarctica isn't completely covered in ice. The McMurdo Dry Valleys almost never see rain and look like a barren desert. Yet photos of the area show patches of moisture on the ground, and geologists believe the soil is wicking moisture out of the atmosphere — which could be happening on seemingly dry planets, too.
Russian news is reporting that a group of scientists in Antarctica have, after two decades, finally managed to drill into an ancient Antarctic lake that may have been sealed off from the rest of the planet for millions of years. They're looking for weird forms of life, and for clues about life elsewhere in our solar system.
For the first time ever, a BBC crew has filmed the formation of a brinicle under the Antarctic sea ice, a phenomenon they're calling an "icicle of death." If you're a starfish and you see one of these coming, you'd better run— or at least, do whatever it is that starfish do when they want to get away from something.
What happens when you toss hot water into the air on a very cold day? It turns into ice, of course. Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) field team member Anna Bramucci takes advantage of this on a -25 F day at Lake Fryxell field camp in Antarctica.
The Russians have been drilling down through miles of glacial ice into an ancient freshwater lake that's been sealed off from the rest of the planet for millions of years. If they find life down there, it could make it more likely that we'll find life elsewhere in our solar system too.