Lake Vostok, the largest sub-glacial lake stretched over 10,000 km2, is located beneath Russiaâ€™s Vostok station. In July 1983 temperatures here plummeted to -89oC, the coldest ever recorded temperature on earth. The overlying ice cover of the Lake has indicated paleoclimatic records 400,000 years old, and the Lake water 4000 m below is said to be isolated for 15 to 25 million years, suggesting that its environment may be home to unique â€˜extremophilesâ€™, never seen before - making Lake Vostok one of the worldâ€™s most mysterious places. In 1955-56 the First Soviet Antarctic Expedition hypothesised the existence of a subglacial lake in the region, but its presence was confirmed only in 1993 with the ERS-1 Laser Altimetry study by J.P. Ripley. Ever since, scientists and researchers from Russia and other countries, have repeatedly made attempts to explore the secret world of the Antarctic.
Penetrating Lake Vostok in Antarctica, without mitigating the potential sources of contamination is likely to jeopardise the pristine nature of the Lake which makes it unique. The lubricants and anti-freeze used to bore a hole through the ice to reach the waters below may taint the very microorganisms that scientists are trying to discover.