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. Chris

    Actually, i think they were saying it was a normal shrimp, frolicking merrily along... what i wanna know is how cold IS it and how much pressure is under there?

    March 16, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. me

    there has been plenty of discovery of life under antartic ice for years and actual shows(older ones)on this-this is a BS hoax story just repeating old news-common sense of course there is life to be found everywhere on earth i believe they call them extremifles-in lava too...waste of money to fulfil someones star war dreams when america roads and infastructure is falling apart....keep the human population down and there is no need to look for another planet to fill-say no to man being GOD and keeping the mythology GOD game going and spreading it to other planets...

    March 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark S

    I love how people can turn anything into politics...sad.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pocahontas

    Oh, I thought the large green mass was the creature. I have to admit I'm a bit disappointed!!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mark B

    Hooray, more resources to exploit. Great!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. panchitovillajr

    It still amazes me that humans are so arrogant. If we can't live there..nothing else can either.

    We evolved in order to breathe this poison gas, so why can't other organisms evolve to adapt to their environment, no matter how severe the temperature or difficult the environment might be?

    We shouldn't ever be surprised to find living organisms in any environment!!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    You people need to stop complaining and worrying about the impact this has on the environment down there and focus on the benefits of this discovery. Suck it up.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kernie

    Thank goodness the goverment didn't find it first, they would have already found a way to screw it!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wowlfie

    I hate shrimp! You eat it!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JI

    Since the government is cutting there budget to go to space they needed something else to do with there time. Lol.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ernie

    I think it eats humans!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. docvoltage

    somewhere under the ice is a larger predator who is very angry that NASA stole its afternoon snack...mwuhahahahah

    March 16, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. p4588968

    Once again, God proves that He knows what is going on and we are just guessing.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Matt

    I would echo Mike's comments. Scientific exploration and discovery are cornerstones of American influence throughout the world. We should be proud that our country, in spite of the difficulties in the economy, continues to fund scientific research at the level it does. China and other emerging nations are beginning to pour money into these areas to lure scientists back to their countries from places like the US and the UK (many of whom immigrated to the US because of just that type of funding and prestige in the first place). These types of discoveries encourage me that we are still at the cutting edge and retain a leadership role, but we must continue to support funding for math and science education and exploration if we want to remain the leaders.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    Granted this may be said already, but one of the main reasons NASA is doing this is multi-fold: to see the limits of life as we know it and the environment it can survive in, and more importantly, we have at least 2 moons in our solar system alone that i know of that are ice covered with liquid water underneith, the most important Europa orbiting Jupiter. Now imagine the impact if NASA drills 600 feet through Europa's ice shell and finds something similar?!

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