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 in Antarctica.
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.
This press conference was originally webcast live.