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Antarctic subglacial drilling effort suspended

British team calls off campaign to penetrate Lake Ellsworth

One of three major efforts to drill into buried Antarctic lakes has ended without success. A British-led project to plumb the subglacial Lake Ellsworth ground to a halt on Christmas Eve, after the team could not properly connect two portions of the drilling system.

Scientists had hoped to penetrate 3 kilometers of ice to reach the lake, where they would sample the pristine water for signs of life. Researchers hope that studying some of Antarctica’s hundreds of subglacial lakes will offer clues to whether ice-covered planets and moons could also support life.  

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