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Life in Lake Vostok of Antarctica

Located on the seemingly inhospitable continent of Antarctica (a place with the lowest recorded temperature on the Earth at -89 degrees Celsius), lies a subglacial lake that is 160 miles wide and 30 miles across. This lake has been dubbed Lake Vostok. It is believed that the lake formed some 20 million years ago. Isolated from the rest of the world for at LEAST 100 000 years, Lake Vostok was one of the last untouched places on this globe.

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The lake presents itself as an analog for the study of both extremophilic microbial life (and possibly larger organisms) and evolutionary isolation. This inhospitable environment parallels some environments that we think might exist elsewhere in the solar system – either in the subsurface of Mars or on icy moons like Enceladus or even Europa. Ultimately, the search for life on other planets could start here on Earth at Lake Vostok.

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