Lake Vostok is a prehistoric lake and has been trapped under Antarctica for 14 million years. It is the largest of about 200 sub-glacial lakes to be found there. Some of the lakes were formed when Antarctica was much warmer and attached to Australia.
So more than 2 miles below the surface of Antarctica, Lake Vostok carries an oxygen concentration that is around 50 times higher than that found in fresh water lakes here on the surface of the Earth. It is thought that this is because of the huge weight and pressure of the continental ice cap.
Any life that exists in the lake would have to withstand extremes. There is extreme pressure, constant cold, high oxygen levels, low nutrient output, and no sunlight. That would make them extremophiles.
Summer in Antarctica will be ending soon. That means that once again the researchers and drillers have to leave soon before the extreme cold temperatures hit.
The Russian scientists plan to send robots into the lake to collect samples over the next 2 years. They will also submit an environmentall assessment plant to the Antarctic Treaty's consultants at a meeting in May 2012.