The Lost World of Lake Vostok

Nature  -   184 Comments

The Lost World of Lake VostokIt sometimes seems as if our planet has no secrets left - but deep beneath the great Antarctic ice sheet scientists have made an astonishing discovery. They’ve found one of the largest lakes in the world. It’s very existence defies belief. Scientists are desperate to get into the lake because its extreme environment may be home to unique flora and fauna, never seen before, and NASA are excited by what it could teach us about extraterrestrial life. But 4 kilometers of ice stand between the lake and the surface, and breaking this seal without contaminating the most pristine body of water on the planet is possibly one of the greatest challenges science faces in the 21st century.

In 1957 the Russians established a remote base in Antarctica - the Vostok station. It soon became a byword for hardship - dependent on an epic annual 1000km tractor journey from the coast for its supplies. The coldest temperature ever found on Earth (-89°C) was recorded here on the 21st July 1983. It’s an unlikely setting for a lake of liquid water. But in the 1970’s a British team used airborne radar to see beneath the ice, mapping the mountainous land buried by the Antarctic ice sheet. Flying near the Vostok base their radar trace suddenly went flat. They guessed that the flat trace could only be from water. It was the first evidence that the ice could be hiding a great secret.

But 20 years passed before their suspicions were confirmed, when satellites finally revealed that there was an enormous lake under the Vostok base. It is one of the largest lakes in the world - at 10,000 square km it's about the extent of Lake Ontario, but about twice as deep (500m in places). The theory was that it could only exist because the ice acts like a giant insulating blanket, trapping enough of the earth’s heat to melt the very bottom of the ice sheet.

Ratings: 8.29/10from 122 users.

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184 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Would love to see a follow up documentary on what if anything has been discovered over the last 16 years or so.
    Have they managed to penetrate the ice without contaminating the lake ?
    Has the research been abandoned ?
    Will we ever find out what the outcome was ?
    Questions, questions.

  2. well that was a lot of maybe's, could be's, possibly and what if's, they still didnt say how the probe was going to be completely clean of bacteria, sounds a tad like a lot of excitement
    by amateurs and not lot of knowledge.

  3. The lake is a rift formed by one of the huge impact craters in the region.

  4. Fascinating! But yes, somebody did notice that the video froze at 37m (43 for me) although I kept listening to the audio. Picture or no, this was a startling look at what the planet--to say nothing of the universe--has in store for us. The unimaginable today is tomorrow's proven fact; those who say "Impossible!" often end up eating their words, if they live long enough.
    One only hopes that the lake indeed hasn't already been contaminated; to lose out on the opportunity to learn from such an incredible find would be heartbreaking.

  5. It saddens me that every single video on here that has anything to do with biology turns into a religion war. Evolution does not exclude most religions or vice versa. Most scientists steer away from religion because religion is (currently) aside from science. Science means the knowing, it only clings on to what has proof and discards that which is proven to be untrue. For (insert beliefs here) there is no real proof, but there isn't anything that proves it's wrong, therefore science doesn't talk about it. Science doesn't hate religion, science is indifferent to religion. What science does not agree with (if I can put it this way) is funding claims on things which can't be proven. Religious people (read: the people, and not the religion!) oftentimes cling to these things. If we take the example of Catholicism, a lot of church leaders actually don't interpret the bible literally, but more allegorically. It is the flock that clings onto the literalness of the book. Science sees evolution as a marvelous process of growth, mutations, adaption and stability. Some religions believe the world is a work of god(s).Must the two be mutually exclusive? In the end, all that matters is what you believe. Evolution has nothing to do with creation, all it gives is a frame to what happened after the first life.

    1. Aye, arguing over fundamentally unanswerable questions on the internet is just plain stupid. Evolution is undeniable and not mutually exclusive with spirituality. Antibiotic resistance, cancer, and the fossil record all prove that evolution is occuring, but they do not have anything to do with the nature of the Big Bang.

    2. definitely. Science, religion, (and state too) are all very different matters and should be dealt with differently. I say this as a catholic.

  6. This is good one.....classic example of good science documentary...

  7. I'm so glad I found this site. I used to dig through Youtube to find worthwhile documentaries. Now I'm happy to be here. I loved this documentary. The exploration of this lake will bring such exciting possibilities and proofs. My respect for the Russians, they are one courageous, tough and dedicated people to have built a station in that region of Antarctica.

  8. It would seem to me that they have allready contaminated the water as they stated that the russians came within one meter of the lake using kerosene in the drilling process...I am guessing that the kerosene would not freeze and was used to flush out debris from the drill hole????....So then are We to assume that the pressure is so great at that depth that the residual solvents in the kerosene could not by now slowly dissolve /melt through that last meter of ice, or found minute fractures caused by the actual drilling to penetrate ????

    1. My thoughts as well, but we will shoot over that as its inconvenient...

  9. well if the lake is just the bottom of the ice sheet that melted because of the heat from the earth, why would there be any life there? just thinking out loud, im about to watch it now...

    1. To fill avalible niches

  10. A really interesting documentary, I just want to know more about this =)

  11. Just saw an article on LiveScience that they reached the lake and got samples of the water. Can't wait to see what happens next.

  12. the music is disturbing!!

  13. I like to read the comments to see the peoples reaction and thoughts about the film before I chose what to watch every night. It's a sad story when I have to dig 3 pages deep into the comments to find the ones that relate to the film rather than a bunch of internet tough guys arguing back and fourth like 12 year old girls. Grow up, the level of maturity on these comments does not match the maturity level of one interested in science and evolution. Go argue on facebook or 4chan, not here.

    1. You should sort comments by "oldest first." Much easier to find actual reviews that way.

    2. Do you not see the hypocrisy in your comment? You just added another useless comment to scroll through to get to the comments about the actual film. Just like this comment I'm typing now. Also, when did arguing become a bad thing? This would be a sad world if no one argued their case, and science wouldn't be where it is today.

    3. I could not be in more agreement with you. Just like good food, I try to put interesting information on my plate when I'm viewing, and with limited time, I get a good idea of a film or documentary from the comments. On a film with hundreds or thousands of comments, I have gone ten or twenty PAGES to get an actual review of the subject concerned......It's just good to know I am not alone.

  14. i don't want to believe in evolution as the whole explanation of life and there's nothing anyone can say to change my mind. i believe in god and i see science as a mean to learn about the law that god somehow use to govern the universe

  15. @Swiftshauna

    Hah.. you are telling people to 'free their minds' and calling them 'small minded and delusional' yet you are the one who seems to be small minded for thinking that you can tell people what's real and what's not. You've probably had the idea of evolution drilled into your brain through school your whole life, and you really think that that is being 'free minded'?

  16. I'm a scientist and macro-evolution is not in the least bit 'scientific' ... micro-evolution, cosmological evolution are measurable and have evidence.... but macro-evolution is nonsense.... yes, i understand the ramifications of what that means.... but so be it.

    1. 1.) Claiming to be a scientist online does not make it true. If your idiotic claim didn't make me skeptical of your supposed legitimacy as a scientist then your problems with basic punctuation would certainly lead me to doubt that you had almost a decade of advanced study under your belt.

      2.) Even if your claim to be a scientist were somehow true, your claim to your own supposed authority does not change the fact that macro-evolution is a well documented and supported theory and is accepted as the accumulation of micro-evolution over a large time scale. Then again, if you were a scientist I'm sure you'd already be familiar with concept.

    2. If small lifeforms change, the cosmos changes, the planets change, the atmosphere changes etc etc. then why on earth should other, larger lifeforms not change over time? There is no reason to assume that they would not, even if you choose to disregard all the HUGE amount of fossile and genetic evidence. You prefer the holy book, allright suit yourself, but don't call yourself a scientist! Then I will not call myself the Son of God who has come to bring home the righteous. You are not invited.

    3. there is almost no fossil evidence, linking rocks to human beings.... you just havent bothered to research it

    4. who says there should be "fossil evidence, linking rocks to human beings" ? or maybe i misunderstood your point. if i did please elaborate?

    5. Do you believe in math? Because small change over small time multiplied by large time equals large change. Velocity multiplied by time. Macro-evolution is the time-integral of microevolution over long timescales. Checkmate.

  17. The woman said that the lake formed 30 million years ago! That is a lie, she is promoting evolution, not creation scirnce. Its truely sad that these tv programs lead so many astray from creation science! And that many actualy believe in evolution, when there is no evidence found on the planet!

    1. @feba59:

      How do you know the woman is lying? Creation a science???? shiver me timbers!! show us where it says creation is a science? and keep your gods out of our pristine "Lake Vostok" they will sully it!

      No evidence for evolution?? maybe you are a ghost then?

      Funny religee's!

    2. Explain the big bang theory in detail from the scientific point of view. you might be a little awe struck with the from nothingness part and on, please read it. You may understand the creational points. There is suggestion for evolution, heck maybe there is to some degree. There is adaptation, but how far do we go with this to jump to evolution?

    3. @Me:

      If you are making a claim for your creationism, show the proof, I do not have to show or explain anything, I made no claims, thank you.

    4. Evolution is a logical extension of adaption. Which is derived from OBSERVATION instead of fantasy. Yes, creation is a real mystery, but creationists claim to understand it. Which makes them frauds. Don't confuse scientific theory (the big bang) with religious dogma!

    5. As to the big bang, modern science is leaning towards exploring the idea that the big bang wasn't the beginning of the universe, rather it was the start of our little corner in it. Interesting idea.

      " The Universe is not fine-tuned to life; life is fine-tuned to the Universe."
      -Victor Stenger

    6. you believe intelligent design has anything to do with science? sad this world is indeed....

    7. "Its truely sad that these tv programs lead so many astray from creation science!" So you know the truth do you? How did you work out the that what the woman was saying is a lie when she said the lake was formed 30 million years ago? An expert, are you?

      You make things up!

    8. are u serious or just delusional?! god is not real! get over your religion and free your mind

    9. No evidence of evolution lol yet you believe in a fairy tale written thousands of years ago

    10. Of course she is promoting evolution and not creation science. She is a scientist not a deranged lunatic who believes in 3000 year old fairy tales.

    11. are u delusional?! God is not real, wake up and free your mind! If you can’t do that please keep your small minded opinions to yourself and spare the rest of us from idiocy

    12. There kinda is... You my friend are a small minded i***.

    13. Mr. Jerk , where you find the information that there is no evidence found on planet about evolution ? Do the scientist need to dangle the skeletons around your neck ?

    14. Creation science hahahahah. That is quite the contradiction.

  18. I think you can differentiate the existing micro and new found micro by testing the sample at every level.

  19. don't bother, nothing new here and no real answers, or real discoveries

  20. very nice doc! watch it..

  21. Having read lots of articles about Lake Vostok, I am still puzzeled with one fact ; on one hand it's said that the ice core (about 4,000 m) is dated of about 400,000 years and on the other hand I have read that the water is isolated from the air since 15 million years ; how can that be ? it seems to me in contradiction or I missed something in the explanations ! Thanks for clarifying this !

    1. Well there is no contradiction, it is a bit confusing. The ice core has a range of times in years, the bottom of the Glacial ice is dated up to 2 million years ago, whereas the top of the accretion ice is dated up to 100 thousand. There is a theory that about 50 million years ago the lake was fully functional and open to the atmosphere. About 35 million years ago it started to go though the seasonal freezing and melting (winter and summer), and in about 15 million years ago it became completely covered and isolated. As the glacier is constantly moving, depending on the depth of the analyzed segment of the ice core you can recreate the lake environment in years before present. For instance, if you analyze the ice from the 3300 meters, that would be the glacier ice dated up to 400000 years before present, as the ice from 3500 meters will be dated about 1million years ago, add 10 centimeters and you get ~ 1.5 mill. years ago.

  22. Having read lots of articles about Lake Vostok, I am still puzzeled with one fact ; on one hand it's said that the ice core (about 4,000 m) is dated of about 400,000 years and on the other hand I have read that the water is isolated from the air since 15 million years ; how can that be ? it seems to me in contradiction or I missed something in the explanations ! Thanks for clarifying this !

  23. i love this site!!!!!!

  24. At least we still have the option to skip the juveniles comments.

  25. Hi, can anyone tell me who Directed this documentary? And yo happen to know which is the Russian song at 2:50? Thank's! Amazing Dokumentary!!!

    1. Ascende huc
      by: Zbigniew Preisner
      Album: Requiem for my friend

    2. Thank you very much!

  26. a dirty jew would say that wouldnt they

  27. I'd rather find new groundbreaking scientific discoveries in my life time rather than try and save earth for future generations... that's just me.

    1. Very human of you! But answer me this...What good is your science when your a fossil on a dead planet?

    2. You narrow minded, selfish little bottom feeder!

  28. Indieisin :-)...

  29. Reply to Jett Rink

    The negative comments are becoming frequent,but that is the price you pay when you link this site to (twatter) (You Noob) & (Face Fook) but all is not bad news.To capture new members and change concepts and the understanding of humanity a price must be paid.The personal negative comments may seem harsh but remember never reply in anger just stay dignified, justify why you are a leading example of evolution the angry comments are made from fear and lack of education rise above and be the example.

    This docu is yet another reason why humanity is wonderful and special species caring and inquisitive.

  30. Waiting to see the Dragons. =)

  31. I read today that they finally drilled all the way to the lake. It will be interesting to see what they find down there after 20 million years...

  32. I love this site and all the fantastic documentaries it makes available. However, I am really surprised by the level of discourse in the comments section. The sort of insults and aggressive negativity is something I would expect to see on YouTube, not on a site dedicated to documentaries and the people curious enough to watch them.

  33. Thank you to all the people responding to this video with words of encouragement, well thought-out questions, and interesting facts. Kudos to those bringing about great debates as well!

    To the people starting fights, giving backhanded comments, bullying others, and not giving any valuable input, please stay away from amazing videos such as this.

    You are polluting the comments section just as badly as humans are polluting the Earth.

    Fighting via comments is futile and disrupts the flow of everyone else's pursuit of knowledge.

    Please be considerate. Thank you.

    1. Here Here!!
      I have a question ........ With this lake does it not show that this part of the world was not frozen? Where does this leave the global warming ideas? I still have to ask if I was the only one in school many many years ago to be taught about the last ice age...........
      Hoping for an answer ..... thanks

    2. We already knew that Antarctica was not always frozen. The climate throughout the world has fluctuated over the years. The current debate about global warming is not whether it is actually happening, climate change is always going to happen. It is whether it is due to human activity and pollution and whether we are causing it to happen a lot quicker.

      I wasn't taught about the ice age at school but it was covered in my archaeology degree.

  34. From the film's beginning scientist Andrei Kapitsa on science taking second place to survival in those extreme conditions. "The best way to... warm yourself up... you eat butter. A pound of butter...goes, 'whoot', in you... and you, suddenly you are warm again and everything is nice, and it's like drinking a glass of vodka, but (chuckles) it's much better."

  35. Can't even have a documentary about a frozen lake without some conspiracy theorist . It's tedious and boring. Jeez.

    1. where have you been sir?

    2. Took a little road trip. Followed deVaca's route.

    3. WOW, good for you man. and deVaca did some amazing valuable pieces of work for the field of anthropology!

    4. deVaca was a remarkable man. I got a sense of what he saw. Ten years he wandered and I whined about a two week bus ride.

    5. lol amazing. too bad you didnt get to stay with any tribes.

      let me know when you make a road trip up towards Ontario. this time you can take a boat and follow Jacques Cartier's path! lol

      thats really cool though man. hope you got lots of pictures.

    6. Slightly over 2100 photos and 32 GB of video. The editing alone will keep me home a while. Then maybe Monsieur Cartier.

    7. do you have a youtube page by any chance? if not you should make one.

  36. the idea of man made global warming is as "redunkulous" as religion. the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere is a tiny fraction of the greenhouse gases. only a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the Co2 produced on earth is made by man. volcanoes alone pump out multiple times the amount we do each year.

    the whole polar bears going extinct thing is complete BS as well. if they could survive the medieval warming period, there's no doubt they'll survive this warming period.

    wake up people. the earth is constantly changing from hot to cold and has been for billions of years. humans and their fossil fuel burning wouldn't even make a noticeable dent on the earth's climate.

    1. Volcanoes do not even put out 10% of what humans are putting out. I realize your mind is already closed, however. Otherwise I would suggest you take some time to do a little research.

    2. this is a great advice for yourself dude, as thomas5900 seems to have done his research

    3. If he bothered to "do his research", he would have had at least a single fact in his post.

    4. you want facts? how about the same period AGW alarmists are blaming humans for warming the earth, the late 1940s to 2000, corresponds with an all time high in the cycles of solar variation as documented since around 1600. How about these increases in solar activity would have caused massive melting in the polar regions, releasing huge pockets of methane from decomposing organic matter, forcing the earth's warming even more and causing residual effects which would level off the spikes between solar cycles, the thing AGW alarmists claim the lack of discounts solar variation?
      You want the most relevant fact, here is it: Climate Change Research is a unique field of science in that it's the only one if you broke from consensus with your colleagues and published a paper declaring it was not happening, you and all those colleagues would be cleaning out your desks and looking for a new line of work in months if not weeks.
      Everyone who pursued that as a career had a preexisting belief it was happening, and sought to prove to the world they were right. Who in their right mind pursues a life's work studying something they feel is complete bull huckey? Nobody.
      Expecting objectivity out of them is a lot like walking into a catholic church and expecting a non biased answer to the question of god's existence. Is that a stretch for an analogy? Not if you consider so many treat their environmentalism agenda as their religion, with all its trappings of holier than thou finger pointing at others in judgement.
      Here is the final fact you need to know: the world's combined output of GGE since the inception of Kyoto in the late '90's has not only risen dramatically, but the rate of its rising has as well. Yet the United States, its sole non signatory member, has seen its GGE more or less level off. So the solution as sold to the world by AGW alarmists has only served to make the problem WORSE yet they don't seem to care one bit. THAT IS ALL PURE FACT and we are left to guess why that is.
      I'd say its a combination of:
      Self loathing leftists engaged in typical global socialist agenda.
      Facilitated by corporations standing to profit from wealth transfer.
      Government officials looking to further seize power and control.
      Misguided fools who think shooting us all in the foot will help the planet.

      Instead all they are doing is accelerating the industrialization of billions, increasing the spread of conventional industrial pollution as corrupt third world leaders pocket the skimmings of UN promoted development. If AGW was real then what will really happen is your own self fulfilling prophecy of doom. You're really screwing up, you know.
      So many of you on the fence will say "well it's prudent to do something even if the science isn't exact, right?" and I am not anti green at all and am arguing the world may in fact be warming and man may have a large role in it even, though probably far less than the sun's variance.
      "Doing something" is not "win-win" for the planet when the policies and sentiments are so confused you've got people saying they want to stop global warming but instead implementing policies furthering global socialism. The problem is allegedly caused by human industrialized activity yet global socialism- eliminating disparity between the haves and have nots- only industrializes billions of third world masses and even increases their numbers by lowering infant mortality rates. The UN's programs are bringing them electricity, running water, paved roads, allowing multinational corporations to build factories and sell them consumer goods. All noble on their own but how does 6.5 billion living with the comforts previously had by only a fraction of that slow global warming?
      It doesn't and conventional pollution and the burden on the planet will reach extremes.
      Stop these people from "saving the planet" before they destroy it.

    5. Why is it such an affront to ask Humans to lessen their impact on the environment?

      Why do you think there is nothing that Humans can do that will do harm to the Earth or it's Ecosystem?

      Why are all of you Global Warming haters so hell bent on saying Humans have no impact on the Earth?

      Why wouldn't we do everything we can do protect this place that gave us Life?

      Why does Repubs act like Businesses do the right thing on their own? How many environmental disasters have we had in America, where there is countless regulation on the environment. Imagine in places like the industrial regions in China where there is no regulation at all and the areas are so smoggy you can't breathe or there is heavy metal pollution of groundwater.

    6. You obviously read nothing I posted and are either trolling or so young it will be years before you have any influence on policy so are still for the moment safely marginalized.
      Yeah China's a real mess, so why does Kyoto have them catagorized as non annex 1? What's happened as annex 1 nations are sticking to pledges yet non annex 1 nations see them only on a distant horizon?
      Since you won't have any intelligent response, I would advise you if you care about the planet, don't get involved with saving it.
      And certainly don't put your faith in international climate projects that say they are going to address climate change but talk about "climate justice" and "carbon equity" and throw money at "scientists" who secretly discuss how they can keep dissenters out of publication in peer review journals.
      As for businesses doing the right thing, who do you think is lined up speculating on carbon credits?
      See below, "misguided fools" then look in mirror.

    7. What do you mean by research? Do not take me the wrong way. I appreciate everyone's efforts and so do yours. But what we call research is merely Data mining from some, credible or otherwise, sources. Well, question is how credible are those sources? As we have known from decades, all types of media are used to manipulate truth.One day Bacon is good, the next day it is dangerous!!!

      As for this discussion, Thomas5900 is right, not entirely may be but upto the extent where Earth is cooling down. And this process is noticed by all the scientists and researchers around the world. For the green house effect I believe not only Co2 but lot of other things are responsible. For example the amount of Infrared beams spread out from any living or non living thing are rather more responsible for it. Unfortunately or otherwise, our atmosphere is not able to absorb it or reflect it back to space. How about that?

      Again no offense, just making a point. [Smiles]

    8. I'm fedexing a crowbar so you can get your head outta yer ass.

    9. I was under the impression the sun had more influence then man.

  37. Interesting and wonderful, Thank you !!!

    Thanks also for a GREAT website !!!!

    Much appreciated.

  38. My favorite documentary on here:)

  39. And when they finally get under all that ice, they find... an aluminum beer can and a plastic bag from walmart.

  40. If they contaminate this lake i will be so incredibly disappointed, scientists are like my heroes and i admire them i really hope that they will try and if they don't succeed they will wait 20 more years if necessary because this is such a unique place....

  41. yeah right.
    but scientists are great.
    not by means that i'm a physics major.

  42. Lasers maybe???

  43. Just take one of the submarines that has explored the Marianas trench, put it on top of the ice sheet, and then throw some spent nuclear fuel rods around it. The fuel rods will melt the ice, taking the submarine down with it, & the boiling temperatures and radiation will kill any surface bugs hitching a ride.

    You could do the whole thing a month from now with a few hundred thousand. Id**t scientists.

    1. you could do this, sure, if you wanted to destroy everything about this "pristine" ecosystem - yeah, scientists are just so dumb* ... (*note sarcasm)

  44. Vostok bottled water coming to a supermarket near you soon.

    1. i was thinking the same thing, only they will spell the name backwards kotsov spring water, goverment sientests have totaly exploted this natural resorse already

  45. The newly built Canadian dirigibles could survive the arduous trek with ease from what i understand .These are heavy lift dirigibles built by a Brit. firm in northern Canada (Discovery Air Innovations), sub... of(Discovery Air Inc.) (Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited)

  46. Absolutely brilliant Doco, and I'm looking forward to this summer when they get back to the lake and get to examine some of the water from it (hopefully)!

    1. THIS summer? As in the southern hemisphere summer? (The northern one is pretty much gone now. )

  47. What they're not considering is what if that hole releases some kind of ancient DEADLY VIRUS that would be airborne,contagious,completely undetectable,and immune to anything.It may sweep across the earth's jet stream,and wipe us,and all photosynthetic life off the face of the earth,only to evolve into a totally new top species,that could leave the atmosphere, and discover the Universe!! Science Fiction,or our future?? Only time will tell?? Yes I'm a science fiction writer.Before you say this guy is an idiot,maybe you should Google me,and see how stupid I am!??

    1. "ancient deadly virus" seriously? I hope your kidding cause this is the most absurd thing I have heard...

    2. It worked for Crichton. Clearly "American Zombie" is thinking of "Andromeda Strain".

    3. you're not a writer. I'll say that. No writer uses double exclamation points.

    4. Perhaps you should turn your theory into a movie script? Scientists gave us killer bees, Cherynoble and probably a few other things. BTW, I use up to three exclamation points or question marks to add emphasis to my comments!

  48. jaja,

    truly cool, fascinating documentary. i'm loving this page. all the segments were incredible, the movile cave in romania and its inhabitants, the existing sample of lake vostok water, it all points to the certainty that there's teeming life there. as long as there is an energy source, and time enough to adapt, life will persevere, as should we all.

    now, i'm ready to return to really relevant matters like the lives devoid of substance of paris hilton, kim kardashian and all like them, as well as the latest idiotic statements from those vying to be the republican candidate for 2012, jajaja.

    thanks, keep this great site going strong.

  49. fascinating article ,very interesting .I wonder if there's life in there ...enjoyed it

  50. Very interesting ....Want to know current update on Vostok Lake

  51. Very interesting documentary. Would like to know whats the current update

  52. i enjoyed how intense the entire thing was presented. The entire documentary is simply wondrous. the information is given cleanly with lots of supporting images, evidence, and it also has life examples of locations. This entire documentary did not board me at any point. i do suggest the viewing and further research of Lake Vostok. This is truly an attention grabbing situation.

  53. My dad and I plan to go ice fishing there next year.

  54. An incredibly interesting documentary!

    Although some things really frustrate me:
    1. How was it not obvious to those scientists, who just kept drilling in the beginning, that they were definitely going to contaminate the lake with the bugs and chemicals from outside?.... That was the first thing that alarmed me even before they mentioned any drilling activities. And they didn't think of that?..... Shame.
    2. Why is it even necessary to test their "technology" on Vostok before using it on Europa? They won't be able to tell if they have contaminated Vostok or not anyway, even if they do test it... They can quite successfully test it in the lab. Besides, even if they don't find any life in Vostok, it won't automatically prove that Europa's water and climate can't support life, and vice versa. A lame excuse to just earn the right to mess with the lake, and to be the first to do it. Shame once more.
    3. I'm still watching. I'll come back to shame somebody else later.

    But a great doc nonetheless!

    1. For the first question, they originally drilled for gas bubble samples in the ice, not for signs of life in the lake. And after they discovered the lake they did take contamination into consideration.

  55. This documentary originally aired in 2000. I wonder if NASA has made and progress or if they've given up completely. Seems like something should be known by now!

  56. A very interesting doc, I can't wait to see what they find down there.

  57. Wow, I can't wait! If they find life there, then the only thing I can think of that would prevent life from forming near the core of Europa would be the fact that Europa orbits within Jupiters radiation belt, which is extremely powerfull and deadly radiation. Although,we know that some life is resistant to radioactivity(roaches for example), and life seems to always find a way once it has a foothold. Perhaps we will find giant aquatic alien cockroaches living on Europa? Sometimes reality is stranger than sci-fi! :D

  58. It's awesome. my toefl listening is about this topic.

    1. Your TOEFL instructors didn't tell you acronyms should be in all caps?

    2. [...]

  59. Did they mention how they planned to receive the data from the probe--- since the ice is sealed behind it and it's obviously a one way trip? Can any kind of wave energy signal penetrate that much ice? Sonar is out. And where does the probe get all the energy to melt thru 4 kms of ice and then operate its payload plus navigate around? It can't possibly have a trailing line or an antenna. WTF? She said the probe is only the size of a squeeze bottle. I'm pretty imaginative but this boggles the imagination---unless I'm looking past something simple that I'm missing. It's a huge mission for a squeeze bottle.

    1. Shortwave radio can penetrate the ice. The drill and the probe would obviously have seperate power sources. NASA has developed very powerfull batteries that have very long life spans, this will be sufficiant for the drill. As for the probe, being that they expect it to KEEP going year after year, then it will have to convert the hydrogen in the water into a fuel source, which is quite easy, we already have the technology for that, I suppose it's a matter of shrinking the components down to fit in the "water bottle".

    2. Thanks for replying.

    3. The "water bottle" was the case in usuing the hole that the russians already have, the seperate probe would be quite larger and would melt its way through the ice in a seperate location, Thats what I gathered from the documentry unless I picked it up wrong

      *update* Go back over the documentry.. I was right :)

  60. We may want to expore earth first fully with a robotic rover, before we can devote more time on space.

  61. interesting

  62. In 2010 russians said that they need only about 20-40 meters to get to the lake. Now the plan is to release the robot in 2012-2013.

    greets from Poland
    love the site

  63. Beautiful.

  64. Awesome doc, wonder if mankind will be able to devote it's entire energy to exploration some day.

    P.S: Russians never cease to amaze

  65. Great documentary!!

  66. Those were different species of spiders and cockroaches found in that cave. Just like leopards and lions and ocelots are different species of cats. The idea that they will keep secret what they find is just plain silly.

  67. i just wanna say i love this site but i hate how every science doc has comments which rip people into separate groups which usually boil down to evolution vs god. get over it, some people believe you, others dont. you arnt gonna change someones world views with one comment, and thats ok. we NEED different ways of looking at things, theres no need to prove your view is the correct view. thats like camera men fighting over whos angle was best when the "big hollywood explosion" goes off at the end of a movie... theres no "BEST SHOT", ok sometimes there is but, we (still) USE EM ALL... in slow motion, just to savor every last drop of that big juicy fireball.

    and as far as the video goes i thought it was cool! i dont know if it was just good editing and the narrator asking the right questions but i thought about a capsule that could melt thru and seal itself as it went down RIGHT before they said it. lol glad they got it covered, id hate to have a BETTER idea than them.

    as for the question of what they are gonna find down there... im kinda thinkin the usual geo-vent ecology. tube worms, crabs, shrimp... maybe some blind fish or cool bio-luminescence, if were lucky. oh and of course the microbes. not too much that we dont already have at the bottom of the ocean tho.

    if they DONT find anything at all i guarantee youll see people drinkin it in bottled water form for $11 a pop. omg, thats not such a bad idea... i gotta design labels. anybody here know anyone in the plastics industry? im gonna need a classy container!! wait, was that a saltwater lake or fresh? ehh, no matter, just dont tell the customer. its gonna be chlorinated, fluoridated, florida tap water in the bottle anyway. who wants to be an official registered distributor?! also, im gonna need a vp so if anyone has taken any business course..? maybe online..? read a book on the subject?? a blog?!? lemme know, we'll... "hash out the details".

    and plz, i mean no offense to anyone. *fake salesman laugh* Hahaaa, CALL Me! ...We'll do lunch.

  68. Interesting Documentary. I rarely watch these kind (being new around here) but found it somewhat entertaining nevertheless. Thanks. :)

  69. @Justintime: From your post It's obvious that you are far to young to be watching this doc.

  70. If your mind is so impeachable that you can't believe in facts like Evolution, Maybe Documentaries are a bit above your level, I suggest you stick to pre-school books like puff the magic dragon. or better yet the Bible. Its always good for a laugh.


    1. what the... it's like you're trying to sound intelligent but you just sound 12.

      You're clearly much more interested in making random strangers see you a certain way than actually discussing the ideas presented in this thing.

      This person does not speak for the scientific community..

    2. and plus, bite me! Puff the Magic Dragon is pimp.

  71. Very interesting! I'm certain they'll find all kinds of life down there. They'll definitely be surprised, probably even large moving animals etc. Just think of the shrimp in the ice recently!

    1. I do wonder just what kind of complex ecosystem such an environment could support. Part of me wants to say that as the ice sealed the lake off, many animals capable of leaving would have left the lake and lakeside. Those who couldn't would have died and we'd be left with some weird cross section of extremophiles. But i'm talking out of my ass really. More just musing aloud.

  72. Good info. Lots of talking heads. Does a good job of working you up, thinking you're going to find out whats in the lake, only to be disappointed. 2 out of 5

    1. I'm not disappointed. It's nice to know that there are still mysteries to explore on this earth. May it always be so.

    2. Like wise.. Would you rather they didn't make the doc at all?.. It's like wanting every movie to have a happy ending.. sometimes the best movies are the ones that don't finish neatly, leaving you to wonder how things turned out.. or to use a common travelling quote - it's not where you get to but how you got there that's interesting..

    3. I have to wonder if there is any other environment on earth that could be used as a basis for comparison.. Just to get the imagination churning until we do know.

      I wanna speculate!

    4. I think if you look at Canadian lakes, there are some, not the Great Lakes, but some of the thousands of smaller, very deep ones, that contain microorganisms that have never seen the light of day. I recall visiting one such pond in S. Ontario. It held layers of sunken leaves, thousands of years worth. But I never looked into it. Canada has all kinds of landscapes that are primordial, unexplored and full of surprises.

    5. soros soria, i actually revisited this doc after watching a scandalously naked expose on the deep ocean and the habitats it supports. And while MOST deep ocean animals still require the sunlight (as their food comes directly from creatures above that need sunlight for life - and so snows down on them) there was one interesting ecosystem that got me thinking of Vostok again. There is a deep ocean vent that actually totally supports all the life that lives around it. I'm not sure if that life is subject to irregular bursts of marine snow.. or what role that marine snow plays in these ecosystems but that the vent is literally supplying animals (and possibly weird plants but i can't remember now..) with food energy. Then more complex creatures were able to come along and feed from them. and so on. So i do wonder what lake vostok would hold in terms of it's own, non solar, non animal energy source, if any. If such a source existed, then by my reasoning (though i have no idea really) there could be slightly more complex life lurking down there. And the documentary DOES talk a little about this which is exciting..

      There are also interesting habitats such as those in deep, dark bellies of caves. Where organs like eyes have evolved away as they were simply no longer needed and it was more energy efficient to go without them.. But again i think this sort of place is totally Downtown Somewhere compared to lake vostok. Because as deep and dark and remote as some cave bellies are, they're still accessible by the outside world..

      out of my ASS... I tell you now. Talking out of my ass. But i'm so curious about this place.

    6. I've been thinking.... ..maybe were taking an ego-myopic view of the migration of life and it's evolution. It would seem more natural, but counterintuitive, if life and its evolution, worked it's way up from the depths. What undiscovered pockets of life might litter the layers beneath what we've barely even scratched.

  73. Indeed this Earth we live in still has many wonders we can't even get to imagine. I feel in awe after seeing this. Great stuff.

  74. Russia a country that has nukes and operates like a mafia family.

    1. What do you know about mafia families, Abdul?

  75. Dead Can Dance! Awesome choice for music.

  76. Russians never cease to amaze me, always surprising me with something surpassing incredible! but I suppose its got to be expected from those who play chess just to relax!! ?? yikes! btw the beautiful voice of the narrator was probably Gillian Judson - shes in debrettes, her 'stage name' is Dilly Barlow I think. very enjoyable.

  77. Evolution does exist, it's seen even today, and with new species or varieties found every year.
    In the relatively small under ice lake, I don't believe the very limited environment, to say nothing of the complete lack of fresh oxygen or sunlight, about all that could "grow" there would probably be bacteria and micro-organisms.
    You could never evolve anything in that cold, inhospitable sealed environment anything even remotely resembling a mammal let alone a human.

  78. What they find in the lake will prove that evolution does not exist. as they have shown in that cave that was sealed to the surface for millions of years, as she said, what did they find?...cockroaches,spiders ,centipides, etc...nothing new, not a new species, now how are they going to explain that?? the most problaby aswers is, as Rob said it will keep in secret.

    1. That's exactly the point and if you understood basic evolutionary ideas you'd see right away how the limited speciation was wholly predictable by applying the principles of adaptation and natural selection.

  79. what if they send down the robot and some big fish gobbles it chomp chomp? :)

  80. Fascinating to see there are still untouched areas in our planet, but if I know the human race, we'll find a way to contaminate it! lol

  81. This truely fascinating. After an isolation of maybe as
    much as 30 million years, it could reveal things about life
    and evolution that is now unknown!

    Like to see more about it.

    PS: Rob, why do you believe that this would be kept secret?

    1. It's they. They will keep it a secret. We know what they are like. They want to control us and our access to information. They won't even let us know who they are.

  82. Fantastic documentary! Enjoyed every minute of it.

  83. best case scenario is some kind of shrimp like creatures or soemthing of the sort have survived to make a full on food chain but from what they were saying it seems unlikely, the glacier covering over the lake would've caused such a sudden change that it surely would've killed anything of that size too quick for that kind of adjustment. still hoping though, its impossible to predict all the ways life can adapt to changing conditions

  84. Too bad Anne Frank didnt think of hiding there. :D ...too soon? :P

  85. Interestingly enough I've chatted in a radio talk show host's chat room with one of the people in that research station a few years ago. It was he who described the project to those of us in the room, and yes, we did verify he was legit and us moderators could see his ip connection.

    I remember helping him fix his keyboard after he spilled liquid on it, coffee or soda I forget, he tried out the suggestion I made and it worked.

    Now seeing this documentary on this lake it hits home and reminds me of the weekly chats we had with this fellow when he could get enough signal strength to get on the net.

  86. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure scientists have discovered that plants and animals don't need sunlight to survive, some plants and animals at the bottom of the ocean survive on gasses from geothermal vents. I don't see why that can't be the case in Lake Vostok as well, hopefully they find some crazy looking ancient species soon!

    1. You're correct. Look at the microbial life that thrives around deep-water, superheated ocean vents in the earth's crust where no sunlight ever reaches. All that's needed is a source of energy that's accessible. It must be constantly available over geologic time and the building blocks of protein need to be present...and perhaps, an "originating sequence" to initiate the processes of life.
      (We can argue all day long over just what this so-called original sequencing is...but that's an entirely other story.)

  87. Yes, exciting & awe-ness! Want a giggle? Imagine how those who get upset about humans evolving from apes will react if they hear about us evolving from microbes! If they didn't know it already, of course. I'd be a bit concerned about what kind of microbes are possibly in this lake. They'd be from millions of years ago? Possibly they could kill humans on any kind of physical contact. And these people they showed were just handling the cores. Plastic sheeting isn't impenetrable.
    *I hope they don't try to do anything til they have all the best equipment to do it right. We may only have that one 1st chance.

  88. surely with today's advanced technology is it not possible to search for life through remote sensors,i.e without entering the only pristine body of water left untouched by human hands,as we have seen throughout the planet wherever we have been we have changed the environment (not for the better i might add).yes i would like to explore the region but not at the expense of its inhabitants

  89. It would be nice to get this done sooner. My curiosity can not wait.

  90. totally awe-inspiring. just gave me the goosebumps! thanks for adding this here topdoc! :)

  91. Great documentary. You have to get nervous for them, they will only get ONE chance to get it right and the stakes are very high. Great stuff.

  92. When you click on Life - David Attenborough in the most popular section, you are brought to this page instead.

    Still a good doc which I watched anyway.

  93. I love documentary's like this. Always get me interested. Too bad they haven't go down there yet :(

  94. This was a fascinating documentary and shows what can be achieved when people from many nations share their knowledge and work together. I do not follow the or accept the evolution theory but the world does have many secrets for us to explore and provide yet more proof of a divine creator.

  95. Peter
    Without the 23 chromosomes God gave your Dad to give to you. Would you be able to look for lake Vostoc.
    DNA cannot go away, if you look inside it, you will see the finger prints of God.

    1. It's funny then that churches and mosques don't look more like the inside of DNA molecules... or that religion has never worked even remotely as well as genetic coding...hmmmm. Explain that.

  96. its extremely fortunate that the lake was not blundered into before a methodical, non-disruptive plan was developed.

    the big question will be if any animal life persisted prior to the microbes developing in sufficient numbers [in response to to the cooling, darkening conditions] to provide a food-chain. my bet is yes.

  97. Loved the documentary, it definitely would be a good material to teach my students, infact I shared this with my entire department. Wished that there was a video script for this. Is there a script somewhere as narrated by the lovely clear voice that I am not aware-of?

  98. Interesting stuff. I am glad to see that underwater diving equipment and techniques are improving so that we can explore the many wonders that lie beneath the sea.

  99. Because I enjoyed the documentary I did some further reading on Wikipedia just to see if there was anything else to add, and there are a few interesting pieces of information worth checking out. Here is just one example for those interested:

    Tidal forces
    In April 2005, German, Russian, and Japanese researchers found that the lake has tides. Depending on the position of the Sun and the Moon, the surface of the lake rises between 1 and 2 cm. The researchers assume that the fluctuation of the lake surface has a pumping effect that keeps the water circulating, which would promote the productivity of microorganisms if there are any.

    Cool stuff.


  100. Maybe it was all the ice, but this was a remarkably refreshing documentary. It was awe inspiring! I can't imagine viewers calling these scientists 'loons'.

  101. Great show. I want to see more like this one!

  102. I remember I wanted to write a paper on that lost world, but, you know... making a living got in the way, so...

  103. Yes, this is VERY exciting stuff!

    Listen, I am going to watch this doc, but maybe someone could remind me about that most recent discovery in the Amazon(?), Congo(?)... I am old and tired and my doctor has me on a new medication that makes me fuzzy... but,

    Apparently, it was a "lost world" like this one, but it was full of new animal and plant species?

    What I found most interesting, was that many of the mammals discovered there had no fear of humans because they had not, (recently, at any rate), had any contact with them.

    Does that ring any bells? I would look it up, but as I said... old and tired.

    Watching documentary, now!

  104. If you read the description of this doc and get physically excited while watching it, you know that you truly are a scientist. This is so awesome, I wish I could contribute to this expedition in any way! (Un)fortunately, I still have a few years of college ahead of me before I can even dream of doing such research...

  105. Far out!!!!!!!!!! One of the most intriguing movies i´ve seen in ages.

  106. This was done in 1999-2000 and there have been many significant papers written on the subject since. The Journal of Astrobiology published a paper (cant remember the scientist) that claimed there were many types of fungi in the ice and therefore, "that Lake Vostok was not sterile but a unique eco-system"(Scientist A).

  107. Fascinating, the lady narrating is so easy to listen to. Was just talking to my Mum and describing this and she says she is jealous 'cause they have to watch "rotten old TV"! Love the BBC!