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. Steve

    So that's where my ex moved to.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wil wicky

    You-all need to get a life and get back to work. How else are we going to afford to pay the taxes that make it possible to squander the taxpayers' money on drilling a hole in the ice on the poles of the earth to discover there is something there when we expected nothing to be there but water and ice?

    March 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    If the survival of the human species depended on your knowledge base, what would be our chances?

    March 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Yea

    I dont get why everyone complains about how this money could have been spent on jobs, it was! NASA has employees and contractors who all have jobs because of this kind of work. An expensive camera doesn't make itself, operate itself, or maintain itself. Its all done by people.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rstrin1

    Putting aside arguments over the merits of the project, I'm darn curious over the shrimp's color. Usually, shrimp are blue-grey (they turn orange when cooked0.Might this have something to do with it's ability to suvive in an unexpected place?

    March 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dave

    I wonder if there is a special connection with the shrimp like creature and the ice. Can this creature communicate with the ice like the animals of pandora? We need to investigate more, spend more billions.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Robert W.

    "We were operating on the presumption that nothing's there," Cool! Why don't we drill a hole in this ice and look at nothing! Proof of how boring it is in that frozen land.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RollaRollo

    So many goffballs on here that don't undersand NASA projects and how they effect our lives and exploration into space. Goofy wasteful spending as some of you have called it has helped us create many if not most of the products you use today. Calling NASA idiots? Please, just look in the mirror!

    March 16, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Craig Thompson

    Does that mean our flag can claim it?

    March 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RCP

    Another waste of Taxpayer money!!!!

    March 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. GregW

    Way cool basket design-looking marks left by the drill head. Pure science is great and worth every dime. Man will never stop petty fighting long enough to fix all the societal problems folks whine should be addressed. There will always be poverty and sickness and death and war etc. Those that think otherwise are fooling themselves and need to give me all their money and drink the coolaide to save the planet. We need space exploration so that when we've finished ravaging this planet we can leave the still-smoking shell and move on to the next conquest. That is what man is built for.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jakedog

    I imagine they are studying the ice shelf to understanding the loss of Antarctic ice. NASA the aeronautics part studies our atmosphere and planetary changes. The loss of Antarctic ice will cause many changes to weather patterns etc...

    March 16, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tali

    The only thing they are going to find on Europa or anyother frozen planet is ice and cold water!! Why don't they except that life was created on this earth, and not from 1 in a billlion billion chance! The reason they found life 600 ft below, is because it was supposed to be there! It was created to be there!

    March 16, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Matthemus

    I am saddened by some of the idiotic comments a few of you people have left. Next time read the story! It says in the article that the creature was swimming, so it was alive. Not something they could have dropped down the hole, or something that was frozen.

    I think that when he was quoted saying it would be a shrimp you would like to have on your plate, he meant that it was large and healthy, a surprising condition for something that lives in subzero AND no light conditions.
    I also saw that someone said that we infected the environment, as the researcher stated, most things CANNOT live down their, which means that even though they may not have done cleanly, anything on the camera was probably frozen long before it got to the shrimp.

    So after you get past a lot of that, this is an amazing discovery, showing that sub-surface species may exist (on a very small scale more than likely) on moons and planets with frozen surfaces.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Eric

    Some of you people are so stupid – “why NASA is drilling under the ground?” I hope all of you are joking.
    What's the first thing a probe does when it lands on a planet? It drills! If any of you have been within throwing distance of any form of news in the last decade, you would've heard that NASA plans on drilling under the ice on Mars and Europa, TO LOOK FOR LIFE. So they practice here before doing it there. If they hadn’t, and they go to Mars and drill under the ice and they screw up, you'd be the first to say "why didn't they drill here first to practice...don't they know what they're doing...our tax dollars are being used for them to screw up..."
    So stupid.
    You’re probably the ones who don’t want them to look for life outside our planet because you don’t want them to find life outside our planet.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
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