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. Extremophile

    We are slowly discovering that life is everywhere on earth. It's already been found in volcanic lakes, at the bottom of the deepest ocean, in waters so acid that they would dissolve metal, and now below artic ice.
    We will, in due time, discover that the universe is full of life. That's what the universe is for, to create and sustain life.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. EngScholar24

    Pretty significant discovery. Imagine what else we have yet to discover. Who knows what other creatures are lurking beneath the surface and how they may contribute to science, medicine and technology? For thousands of years, people have asked, "Why?" and "What if?" The results: aviation, engineering, computers, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, the discovery of the double helix DNA strand, Ipods, cell phones and pretty much EVERYTHING we use in today's society. And I can't believe the utter stupidity of some on this board. "So this is what tax money is paying for" and "public schools are closing", blah blah blah. Start thinking outside the box people. Each discovery, no matter how insignificant, can lead to bigger ones...

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

    Does anyone know if they drilled into a lake or ocean under the McMurdo ice shelf? If this creature is in a lake then that's a huge discovery =P

    March 16, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sandra

    Just another example of American taxpayers'

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ . . .

    down the (Antarctic) drain.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Argwings

    Please fund NASA, they have a new mission

    March 16, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. WB

    Quoting another poster:
    <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?

    Another victim of HORRIBLE science education in our schools... the public in US has zero understanding of the how and why of basic research... they think all scientific advancement has be " market ready" immediately. VERY,VERY, naive.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mark C

    *** That money could have been used to help the Americans who need it, not on some stupid project like that so NASA can have a job-Idiots. ***

    Yeah, we should fire all those government scientists so we can do something productive with that money – like pay them unemployment!

    Could you be a bigger idiot?

    March 16, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Yeah...

    Leave it to a bunch of pretentious, self-righteous, conservative Bible nuts to turn this conversation from shrimp into religion. If those of you taking that stance would stop trolling CNN's forums looking for a sticking point and spend your time actually contributing to society (you know, engaging your brain, thinking, exploring, discovering, learning...), you wouldn't have to worry about pointing fingers at NASA, Washington D.C., and other similar societal institutions and trying to discern intellectuals from idiots. That kind of armchair quarterbacking is usually done by folks who have no business being in the drivers seat, a notion that is clearly cemented when said individuals open their mouths. And before you mouth-breathers take any more of my valuable oxygen to start spewing claims of atheism and liberal agenda, I have nothing against faith or those who hold it, just morons. I know plenty of intelligent, scientifically-minded people who are also devout subscribers to their respective religion's philosophies, but they are smart enough to know that one does not preclude the other, except perhaps for two issues: creation and macro-evolution. It is, however, inevitable that the ever-increasing number of idiots being produced (screaming from BOTH sides of the aisle), which in their numbers represent an ever-increasing percentage of the cross-section of America, tend to dilute the pool of intelligence, unbiased philosophical (not theological) thoughtfulness, and clear-mindedness of our society as a whole by doing exactly what they're doing here: drowning out the rest of us with the sheer magnitude and depth of their collective stupidity.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. keburg1

    >>Pretty unbelievable. A brand new creature discovered by humans....>>

    Hardly. The story says that what surprised scientists was WHERE they found the creature. It doesn't say the creature was heretofore unknown.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. doubter

    If they found several dozens, I might believe it; not a lonely one 3 inch shrimp under such condition. Need more details and explanations to convince me. Remember the cold fusion?

    March 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Scott Simmons

    Its shocking to see how clueless the general population is about science, and the scientific method. These comments make me seriously wonder about the future of our country.

    For those who question why NASA would be doing this, consider that arctic ice is a good measurement tool for ancient atmospheric conditions. NASA is the National AERONAUTIC and Space Administration...they aren't solely about exploring space, and the study of atmospheric conditions in years passed could aid in the study of conditions today, perhaps by orbiting satellites (surely withing NASA's scope, right?).

    There is far too much knee jerk reaction and anti-science backlash, by people who don't even realize that they benefit from the innovation and efforts of NASA on a daily basis.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kleber P

    In response to Jimbo who said: Uhhhhh...NASA...the sky is UP there...not down there. Another wasted gazillion dollars.

    Before making absurd blanket assumptions about NASA's programs, you might be interested to know that they're mission is four-fold:

    NASA conducts its work in four principal organizations, called mission directorates:

    * Aeronautics: pioneers and proves new flight technologies that improve our ability to explore and which have practical applications on Earth.

    * Exploration Systems: creates capabilities for sustainable human and robotic exploration.

    * Science: explores the Earth, solar system and universe beyond; charts the best route of discovery; and reaps the benefits of Earth and space exploration for society.

    * Space Operations: provides critical enabling technologies for much of the rest of NASA through the space shuttle, the International Space Station and flight support.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lyssianasid Samphipod

    Does this mean that you all are taking over that hole too?

    March 16, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Shu

    It's a sea monkey. NASA added the little packet into the 600' hole.....

    March 16, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kleber P

    In response to Jimbo who said: Uhhhhh...NASA...the sky is UP there...not down there. Another wasted gazillion dollars.

    Before making absurd blanket assumptions about NASA's programs, you might be interested to know that their mission is four-fold:

    NASA conducts its work in four principal organizations, called mission directorates:

    * Aeronautics: pioneers and proves new flight technologies that improve our ability to explore and which have practical applications on Earth.

    * Exploration Systems: creates capabilities for sustainable human and robotic exploration.

    * Science: explores the Earth, solar system and universe beyond; charts the best route of discovery; and reaps the benefits of Earth and space exploration for society.

    * Space Operations: provides critical enabling technologies for much of the rest of NASA through the space shuttle, the International Space Station and flight support.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
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