March 16th, 2010
10:39 AM ET

NASA discovers life hidden 600 feet below Antarctic ice

A three-inch long Lyssianasid amphipod (seen in orange) was found on the underside of the McMurdo ice shelf in Antarctica.

Six hundred feet below the Antarctic ice, where no light can be found, NASA scientists made a startling discovery – a swimming shrimp-like creature that could challenge the idea of where and how forms of life can survive.

While the creature is small itself -– only about three inches long -– its impact could be tremendous.

A NASA team had lowered a small video camera to get the first-ever photograph of the underside of an ice shelf – and that’s when they saw the swimming creature, according to a NASA document.

The discovery could shake the very foundation of what kind of creatures can survive in certain atmospheres.

"We were operating on the presumption that nothing's there," NASA ice scientist Robert Bindschadler told the Associated Press. "It was a shrimp you'd enjoy having on your plate."

"We were just gaga over it," he told the AP.

The creature, a Lyssianasid amphipod, could lead the way for larger expeditions into harsher environments that scientists previously believed could not support life – both on the Earth and even frozen moons in outer space.

soundoff (608 Responses)
  1. stanton cummings


    March 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Matt

    Everybody always seems to focus on spending spending spending.. The fact of the matter is that if NASA does not use it's allocated budget completely, it will be reduced by the unused amount the following year. With inflation and everything else, that spells doom to any federal agency. As far as drilling in the ice here on Earth.. Would you rather they fly a drill to some far off planet and perform the same tests when it could be done here, cheaper and safer? If you cannot see how this relates to space exploration, then you should just skip the science articals from now on....

    March 16, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Paul2

    It is DEFINITELY THE THING!!!! Put it back and leave it alone! Seal up the area and post warning beacons to stay away!!!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tom thompson

    why, only 600 feet I thought the ice was thicker than that.
    and when they send probe to europa they may now think life could be there,
    they try to match thing on earth to possable other world . to compare whats the same
    and and i do wonder what other goals they wanted to make

    March 16, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. micgrgg

    r u serious!! it's a shrimp, something that goes wonderful with cocktail sauce!! preferbly red cocktail sauce!! lol. it's a shrimp people, REALLY!! it's a shrimp!! REALLY!!! it's the one that the Shrimp boats missed!!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dennis

    Nice, but with all the budget problems, why is NASA bothering with this?
    And while NASA is exploring the ocean, what is NOAA doing?

    March 16, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RJ

    For those of you who don't understand why NASA was involved in this: One of our future space missions will entail going to Europa, or another icy moon /w a liquid ocean beneath it. In preparation for such a mission, it's pretty common practice to essentially look in our own backyard to get an idea as to what we might find. For instance, certain places on Earth are used to test Martian projects because they are somewhat alike. A discovery like this is important, purely because it hints that more complex forms of life can survive in water environments completely devoid of the things we associate as being required. While we know that deep sea vents can support complex life in the absence of light, the vent itself is an energy source. What makes this remarkable is that the vent energy source AND light energy source are no where to be found. That means that whatever ecosystem exists down there allows for the existence of complex life. This is important for ice-ocean moons because that means that some complex life might exist towards the ice-ocean boundry and not be confined to specific deep-regions (ie, sea vents). Finding Bacteria on planets/moons outside Earth would be impressive, but short of finding sentient life out there, finding complex life that evolved outside Earth's environment would be one of the greatest scientific discoveries of human history

    March 16, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. The Horse Spawn

    Hmmm It was swimming around so im gonna bet ITS ALIVE!!! Durrrr

    March 16, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    Practically every comment here is retarded. Someone actually said "Oh great now they are bringing foreign bacteria to it on the camera". Its in a damn ocean... ON EARTH. I doubt there's any bacteria on that camera that hasn't drifted its whay across the ocean at least once in the several billion years this earth has existed.

    "Why is NASA doing this". There are a million things NASA can learn about the possibility of life on other planets (and planets themselves) by studying this one... would you rather they were blowing the cash to send a crew to Mars to do the same thing? This is the kind of stuff that they are supposed to do.

    Jesus, there are some damned idiots about...

    March 16, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. the clutch dude

    I see a new reality show.....Worlds Deadliest Catch: the Million Dollar Shrimp......

    March 16, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Say Wha

    #8 @Joshua G " this is what NASA spends money on?"

    What do you expect? Someone above killed their space exploration project.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Big Jilm

    Some of these comments....LOLZ

    NASA has been and will continue studies in Antarctica since it's the closest environment to Mars, for example (much cheaper to test/train there). They have been drilling in the ice for quite some time as it reveals the history of Earth's climate change. Also, drilling a hole in such a mega ice sheet will not make it melt faster.
    Those unfamiliar with Antarctica need to learn that the place is sooo hostile that 90% of animal population leaves the main continent for the outer penn. because life is too harsh. Life shouldn't exist under the ice because it's so extremely hostile. It's a major milestone to find life in such a hostile place. We're talking about temperatures that reach negative 170 degrees F! in the interior!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pat

    Well, if it's a "shrimp-like creature"...that explains why it's there in the anartic...obviously running from us in vain.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bruce

    NASA was actually looking for alien communities under the ice.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John Murgatroyd

    I agree with the comments of #71. Some of you need to grow up !!!!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
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