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. RobinVT

    Can't wait for the right wing lunatics to use this as further 'proof' that global warming is a sham.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DOGHOUSE175

    Maybe the shrimp is eating the other white meat.... swimming cows.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. steve

    does it come with cocktail sauce?

    March 16, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Picachone

    How come they didn't mention the enpty Coors Light can and cocktail sauce bottle they also found?

    March 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sebring 2

    "i guess the fastest way to outer space is thru antarctica. sweet move nasa" – it worked in Stargate SG-1...

    March 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. LKR

    Wasn't there an X-Files episode about this?

    March 16, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dude

    NASA isn't just about space. We have satellites looking down at the ice sheets, might as well have probes looking backup.
    Maybe it should be renamed to NASSASYBFWDYLU: National Aeronautical Sea & Space Admin that Saves Your Butt by Future-proofing the World Despite Your Lack of Understanding!

    That better????

    March 16, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Presbyopia

    Stupid comment by scientist re eating it!

    March 16, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Johnnyd

    Does cleveland have an ocean, I believe it does

    March 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. me and that's all you need to know

    Ok first off those of you who don't like what NASA spends their money either 1. run for office yourself, 2 vote for new representation in your district, 3 join NASA as a project director and manage your own projects, 4 renounce your citizneship in the USA and go somewhere else , 5 if not american STFU its our science agency not yours.

    Now a lot of you have indicated the same reason I believe NASA was their (test run for Europa). However a few have also I think realized the point that they were their and made an UNEXPECTED DISCOVERY *cough- bonus for their program*. I say kudos to NASA for not keeping this kind of discovery locked in a file somewhere for years hidden from the public. More reason to further explore the extremes of our home planet.

    Now those of you worried about tainting the ecosystem and all of that Earth is a more durable place than you seem to believe, yes an eco system maybe invaded by other organisms or what not but think about it the human race by nature has to expand even before civilization people have migrated, expanded and adapted the ecosystem to their needs not the other way around. People have built huts, igloos, shantys or anyother dwelling you can think of since before recorded history, this is us change the environment to meet our needs.

    So as we continue to reproduce, and under-replace what we consume we will outgrow this planets surface area at some point so better to know what, where, and how we will continue as a species than sit by idle and rotaway.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jay

    To all the teabagger types that are complaining about why NASA would be looking under the polar ice since they are supposed to be researching space... In case you haven't noticed, we have discovered several ice covered planets/moons in our solar system and so doing practice runs on exploring our own ice covered polar regions is highly relevant to NASA's mission.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Oscar

    Since NASA doesn't have the funds to explore space, they might as well occupy themselves with what lies below

    March 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jerry C

    Now that they found life at 600 ft below the Antartic ice on planet earth, how soon before they make the GIANT leap that life exists on other planets? LOL...setting up every human being for the greatest DECEPTION the world has ever known. Life does not come from non-life. God created life on earth. Just deal with it.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. siege2050

    Is It possible that the shrimp was brought down with the camera unnoticed? I mean if it is a known species, isn't it a little odd it would be down there in such an extreme where no life is thought to exist? Life is able to adapt to all kinds of situations but it seems that life down there would be a bit more unusual in response to the unusual environment and not just your everyday shrimp.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. james

    as bubba said "theres all kinds of shrimp"

    March 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
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