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. Reli

    Some of you people need to stop over-analyzing the article. And if you think the government should stop "wasting money" on stuff like this, then what should they spend it on instead? Invading Iran or other countries that haven't attacked us? Or more unemployment benefits for people who still can't find a job after 12 months? Try relocating or getting into a different field, it's not that hard. Last I checked, you were never given a guarantee of staying in the same city or job field all your life.

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

    So much misunderstanding and plain ignorance. NASA explores many places not just outer space. This discovery MAY have a profound impact on the search for life everywhere from our oceans to the moons of the gas giant planets and beyond. And one day in the future we will need to know what other places support life because we will either outgrow this planet or make it uninhabitable one way or another. You may consider it funny. If so refer to my first sentence.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ituri

    When man first went to the bottom of the Oceanic Trenches (7+ miles deep) we found and were astounded that creatures lived there. When man first dug through the arctic ice, we found and were astounded that a shark lived there.

    When will we stop being astonished at things that are really not that shocking? Bacteria live in VOLCANOS, and we think creatures can't exist in arctic conditions? Come on, NASA... this is why nobody respects you.

    Things live everywhere. Things most likely live elsewhere than Earth, too. Finding that life is all part of the fantastic process of discovery, but come on... we KNOW there's going to be stuff there by now. We're not Neanderthals.

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

    Why would the spend money on this? If they just wait a few years for all the ice to melt they won't need to drill through anything 600 feet deep.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Matthemus

    Oh and @alex #188, NASA does stand for that. But they are also exploratory, just like Apple is called Apple, but they don't farm apples.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Timus, Powder Springs, GA

    Dinner time!!!!!!!

    March 16, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DonkeyBoy

    Perhaps if they did further they may find some cocktail sauce.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nik Green

    Kudos to NASA fro making this discovery. It's our taxpayer money well spent, compared to the $1.5 trillion we've coughed up to arbitrarily kill over one Million muslim civilians, all because the real powers-that-be in DC happen to hate Muslims and Arabs.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TD

    It's pathetic to hear people say "Who cares" waste of money ect. You guys realize this essentially shatters expectations about life on Europa? It's widely speculated on whether there exists life on Europa because the in many places the ice is so thick that life is thought not to be possible, considering this find it's more then likely there is life on Europa....

    But then again who cares about life outside of our planet right?

    March 16, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Candace

    I assume all those complaining about tax money being spent on drilling a hole will still want in on the clinical trial if said super shrimp has beneficial properties and they become ill. I notice most people who hate NASA, and evolution, and science still:

    A. want antibiotics to cure their evolved resistant strains of bacteria.
    B use Tom Tom
    C Want accurate time data.

    Science, people!

    March 16, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CHRIS


    March 16, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dan goodleaf

    The question of where and how life can be sustained is too often framed, and restricted, by our definition of what constitutes "life". Remember, we are but mere mortals. It may well be that life on other planets is defined differently and the necessities to sustain it are not what we are accustomed to.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tim Haley

    Way to many negative comments. What's become of the spirit of adventure of the common American, and the pride of being the first to explore. I believe they are perfecting their ability to bore through thick ice in preperation for exploring Ganymede, the biggest ice ball in the solar system, (read that as lots of free water) and were surprised to find life where they didn't expect to. It could happen on Ganymede also, but I hope not because then some idiot will find some reason to protest the use of the water. People, all the wealth and resorces we could ever want are waiting for us out there. Let's go get them together. Love and peace.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Richard

    Personally I like my shrimp cold and on ice.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Haggisdog

    I'm hoping they discover a mermaid next.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
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