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. Robert Wasmer

    First of all, 660 feet is not that deep when you consider that great depths of the ocean. As a deep sea biologist who dwcribes and names previously uncollected (new species) of shrimps, I have pursonnally named a new species of shrimp collected at a depth of 4200 meters orver a bottom depth of 5200 meters; a description of a second new species from the same depth is in preparation. These shimps were collected by Scripps Institution of Ocanography in the Pacific Ocean. We have good evidence that life forms exsist to the greatest depths of the ocean, and many of those are larger than 3 inches. Second of all, it is an amphipod, not a true shrimp in the sense of ones you would get at Red Lobster. Third, I am not at all surprised that NASA should be interested in the Antaarctic Ice Shelf. The ice/ocean water interface certainly has an effect on atmosphereic climate.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ginger

    coooooooool that is pretty awesome!!!!! wonder what it eats?

    March 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Who Cares

    Why was NASA looking under the ice? The answer is simple. NASA studies the climate. Part of the climate study is the polar ice caps. Most of their study is from space with satellites. The article clearly states this study was to look at the underside of the polar ice caps, the first study of its kind. There are your answers to so many stupid questions. NASA is the most inovative part of the US Government, it is amazing how many people think NASA is a waste of money. If the rest of the govt. was even close to being as inovative, our country and govt. would be in a much better place. The world revolves around inovation. Demand more from the rest of the government not less from the most inovative part.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kidada

    Why are people questioning NASA? We know more about space than we do our own oceans. It makes sense for them to stop ignoring our own planet. Also this is probably less costly than space missions, easier to retrieve lost cameras, and safer for humans to study.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    Its probably global warming. Those shrimp are paddling their little tails and causing the currents under the ice which warms the water and causes the ice sheets to slide off the land which contributes to the further depletion of our polar glaciers.

    Best solution to fight this ecological monster. Eat more Shrimp... and then make some kind of tax credit to do so because you're reducing the carbon footprint of these shrimp.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cmoor

    Why is everyone mad because NASA discovered this, quit saying that the government should be giving you money for christ sakes that how we got where we are today! On another note this is pretty cool to find out that something could be living in an enviroment like this. This is why I love science!

    March 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. scott

    Find me one of these things walking around on land, driving the car next to me or creating jobs and then I will be impressed...maybe even believe in God too!

    March 16, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dlishh

    Once again shows that the scientific community has no idea what the hell is going on. People have absolutely no clue.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. alex

    u guys and gals are very funny.
    very cleaver comments

    March 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ty

    Ok, I'm all for exploration but I'm a little confused as to what the big deal is in finding a shrimp swimming around at the six hundred foot mark. We've found plenty of complex life thousands of feet deeper than that happily living in the total cold and darkness under extreme pressures.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mike d

    maybe it fell out of someone's plate

    March 16, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ekim

    careful the bible thumpers will say god put it there

    March 16, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. scott

    Hey AlwyzAtChrch,

    Whatever this thing is, I am sure it is happy to not have to be around anyone like you. Go back to talking to the wall and pounding the book!

    March 16, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CNN Reader

    Stop complaining everyone! A bunch of whining adults out there.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tony Rozycki

    Maybe we could farm them on Mars or Europa?

    March 16, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
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