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An international panel of scientists discussed research
conducted at Lake Vostok in Antarctica during a press conference on
Tuesday, May 28, as part of the American Geophysical Union's 2002 Spring
Meeting in Washington, D.C. The panel included Robin Bell of Columbia
University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and John Priscu of Montana
State University -- two U.S. scientists funded by the National Science
Foundation -- as well as Jean Robert Petit of France's Laboratoire
de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement du CNRS and Sergei
Bulat of Russia's Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute.
Lake Vostok, a body of water roughly the size of one of North America's
Great Lakes, is located approximately four kilometers [2.4 miles] below
the surface of Antarctica's continental ice sheet. Scientists are interested
in the geophysics of the lake and whether it contains microscopic life.
This information will be critical in deciding how to explore Lake Vostok's
waters without contaminating them. Understanding the geophysics of
the lake, and how to safely explore it, could aid the eventual exploration
of a presumed ice-covered ocean on Jupiter's moon, Europa.
NSF, as manager of the U.S. Antarctic Program, coordinates U.S. research
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed
by the speakers are their own, and do not necessarily represent the
official views, opinions, or policy of the National Science Foundation.