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. Jp

    who cares? another worthless venture brought to you by nasa and the american tax payers...

    March 16, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. Gus

    What are the limits? That thing could carry a germ that could wipe us out...

    Do the benefits of that kind of exploration outweigh the risk?

    Shouldn't we be focused on fixing what is broken on the surface of this planet first?

    March 16, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. Christian

    Those shrimp would be like a million dollars a pound

    March 16, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. Baltazar Leco

    How many were under the ice?

    March 16, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. raisinbrandcrunch

    That takes ice-fishing to a whole new level.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  6. Doreen Me

    Very funny comments and how true
    NASA drilled holes in the ice So why is the ice melting ?? Keep drilling holes

    March 16, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dbb

    NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration. What are they doing in the ocean under the ice? Are they confused about what they exist for? or maybe they are just another out of control Federal Govenment spending apparatus trying to justify their existence? No wonder this country is broke going broker. Someone should call them up and tell them to knock it off.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    So, now, are you Sci-people gonna try to catch it and do slice-dice on it or do the Prime Directive? Study it from afar and attempt not to touch it in any means necessary!

    March 16, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. MLNonet

    The unfortunate thing is that that camera (probably -unless they performed the camera drop and drilling sterilely) now brings new bacteria, viruses and fungi that were not part of that environment into an environment that may be ill-equipped to deal with invasive species. That they were surprised suggests they may not have taken the appropriate caution not to mess with the environment the way the rest of mankind has been bringing in species into new environments and destroying the ecological balance previously in place (cane toads into australia as an example of purposeful introduction, or zebra mussels into the great lakes as an accidental one, small pox into the new world accidental then used maliciously on the North American indians. )

    March 16, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ozzie

    Now how is this find going to help the economy and the starving children?

    March 16, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. Brit

    Of course upon an amazing discovery like this, we would say, "It's something you would like having on your plate."

    March 16, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  12. Brad

    Can you say, "practice run for Europa!!"

    March 16, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. Big L

    @jammamon... if it was "swimming" it must've been alive. Just a theory.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. Liljack

    The article said it is a "swimming" shrimp, that would seem to mean it wasn't frozen.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. Garth Bock

    Is this shrimp the product of evolution from an early ancestor ? Probably not but most likely an adaption from an ancestor when the Earth was very warm. So to infer that life can exist on a frozen moon would infer that life can arise in a subzero environment. The odds are stacked against this. Life would have to arise during a warm phase and then adapt as the moon or planet chilled down. Evolution would most likely stall before life became too complex.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
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