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. artph

    Well said Mr. Spendlove. I am constantly amazed at the lack of realization concerning what NASA contributes to all of us. Our world is fascinating and I'm glad someone is out there attempting to learn more. This discovery is only proof that there is much more to learn about our planet. Keep up the good work NASA!

    March 16, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. anonymouse

    Aeronautics and

    more like:


    March 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sebring

    I was going to say "wow, yall have no life". Then i realized that i just read through about 139 (mostly boring) comments. So hey, i guess im there with yall. Now, the only thing i could think throught reading this was SUPER SHRIMP!.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dudley

    Maybe it's an alien baby..ya know from Alien vs. Predator??..hehe...

    March 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. andy q

    i guess the fastest way to outer space is thru antarctica. sweet move nasa

    March 16, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. EatChikin

    I bet the guy lowering the camera was eating shrimp at the surface and one got stuck to the camera lens... that's what we're seeing...

    March 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. andy q

    nasa should build those drills we saw in the matrix movies. now that would be awesome drilling. nasa will never reach zion this way

    March 16, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MichiganMan

    Great. Now we can spend millions of dollars to search frozen moons for shrimp. Think about that next time you see a telethon.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. thom

    i think nasa dropped it down the hole so they could "discover" it....

    March 16, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Yeager

    Kudzu anyone? hehehehe

    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. )
    Posted by: MLNonet

    March 16, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Barb

    and just how does this help anyone to know this? seriously.will this find cure aids or cancer? will this find pay your mortgage payment this month of give a job to someone laid off. other than researchers who will no doubtedly submit some sort of grant request for millions to study this........who care?

    March 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Doge

    Tell me if this sounds like that book by Dan Brown, 'Deception Point'

    March 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mitch

    I'm with you Bert. Just say "Know!" Because myths work in mythsterious ways.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tripntango

    It's not uncommon for federally funded agencies to seek more cost effective means of conducting their research. It certainly would not have been more practical to build a probe and launch it into space. Further, it's a shame that, for some, more obvious reasons don't come to mind as to why NASA may be conducting this research, like to aid other research that will help our environment. Just because *you* can't understand why NASA makes certain decisions doesn't make them wrong or just makes *you* clearly more ignorant.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tony

    It was probably an imperfection on the expensive camera we taxpayers footed the bill for and NASA called it a shrimp?!

    March 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
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