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. Chris

    Why is everyone making a big deal about NASA doing this? It only makes sense that if they ever intend on searching other planets/moons for life that they'd first want to know the extremes to which life could exist on earth! Drilling down to the bottom of the ice shelf and searching around just makes sense if you ever plan on looking on other planets/moons which are more than likely colder than our own. We already know of moons with ice and probable liquid water beneath it, so why spend more money on searching somewhere you have no idea could support life when you can spend a fraction of that here on earth under better conditions and determine if the chances of finding life there are even possible.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. J.K.L.

    I would expect many of the ignorant posts on the FoxNews website but not here! Geez. Everyone keeps asking the following things:

    -Why is NASA drilling holes in the ice?
    Perhaps researching extreme conditions where life can survive. Knowing the limits of known life will help them focus their research on where to look in the universe for extraterrestrial life.

    -Why are we drilling ice? Shouldn't we be curing hunger instead?
    NASA is a research agency, not created to cure social, economic or political issues.

    -Why is NASA wasting tax dollars?
    Another short sighted view from people who see life through a key hole. Was it a waste of dollars when ARPA researched sending messages from one mainframe to another in the 60s...which later spawned the Internet? Or wasted money and effort to research the sun and learned about solar flares...which has helped us protect our communication satellites and electric grids. Technology and human advancement comes from research that seems irrelevant to the average on looker.

    I guarantee that everyone here ripping federally funded research uses something that started out as a "waste of money/time" on a daily basis.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Randy

    I find this pretty cool. I find new discoveries so interesting.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. David

    Science and scientific exploration used to be considered great endeavors and achievements. Now it is laughed at. We can sugar-coat it all we like, but we all know why this is. Right-wing Christianity really is destroying this nation.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jared

    This has to be some of the most brainless comments I've read in a while.

    NASA cares because of how harsh of a climate it is, yet how similar the environment is to environments on other planets and moons and space in general for that matter. This is actually a relatively inexpensive way to test equipment + theories about life + etc. without spending waaaay bigger amounts of money by spending up spacecraft ill-equiped or underprepared. See, in space you really only get one chance to get all your mission parameters right... It's better to get it right in the preparation phase rather than spend waaaaay bigger amounts of money for naught, or a less productive mission than it could have been. This way when more money is spent in space it'll have a much better chance of success.

    This find is game-changing. The evidence of life swimming below 600 feet of ice without sunlight, wow. Well said to whoever thinks that there may very well be lifeforms on other moons even in our own solar system or other celestial bodies beyond!

    PS That thing on your heads contains something called a brain. Use it more often. Brains are good for you, mmkay?

    March 16, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Armageddonkitten

    The lack of scientific understanding by the general American public (as displayed in these comments) is astounding. It's not really surprising, in that light, that none of you understand what NASA is for, why it would be doing research on ice in Antarctica, or even have the simple reading comprehension (in some cases) to understand that the shrimp was, yes, found ALIVE. Please open a book and open your mind.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. blair

    whats interesting is that not only does this organism feed off of another organism.. but larger ones feed off of IT! cant wait to see what else they find

    March 16, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bubba

    Yeah, they were doing tests drilling through ice to prep an expedition to one of jupiter's moons. Europa, I believe. NASA hopes that there's life on Europa. But before we can go there, they need to do studies about drilling through lots of ice. Hence, this article. Still amazes me there's life in those waters. And I wanna eat that shrimp. Yummy.

    March 16, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MC

    "Now how is this find going to help the economy and the starving children?"

    I guess the same way the hubble and the apollo program did.

    If everything is supposed to help the econony and feed the starving, why are you sitting on your duff posting comments anyway?

    March 16, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Prime69

    Numerous posts that yet again support the fact that this country is actually lacking individuals of significant intelligent. NASA has been the proving grounds for thousands of commercial products that we as citizens utilize on a day-to-day basis. Some were accidents and others came out of hundreds of hours of research. It just might be that research done 600 feet below the Antarctic ice helps modern medicine find the cure for cancer. I will clarify that I don’t work for NASA. However, it is very obvious that a better part of the population that has the time to leave a comment with regards to how NASA spends money is also very far removed for what NASA does and lacks the ability to do simple research to better understand the benefits that NASA has provided to this country year after year.

    March 16, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kg2010

    Hehe lol, Watch out could be deadly as hell maybe small and harmless but may be a killer of a specie that could wipe out the human race with just one touch on human skin and spreads like nothing seen before. Or maybe there are other species down further who knows.

    But Really shouldn't we be more concerned about real life issues on the surface of this planet there are more important problems to fix on the surface of the planet that dwell on what is beneath us, and interfering with life forms that we should leave alone for now.

    March 16, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. maary

    Why not? I don't understand why we keep being amazed that we find creatures living anywhere on our planet.
    And I agree with the poster that said
    "Pretty unbelievable. A brand new creature discovered by humans – and already we're thinking about eating it".
    Stunning... "'Kill it" Is the First thought..
    I feel sorry for any creatures we might find on other planets..

    March 16, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tom

    I think it's an interesting discovery and I am glad that CNN reported it. There are a lot of exceedingly shallow and short-sighted comments here though.

    March 16, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Name

    Why are some people so short-sighted? A waste of taxpayer money? How about we take that 10000 or so and give it you so you can buy yourself some puppies? PLEEEASE! If you don't know how the world evolves, at least spare us your ignorance. You need to realize that research leads to innovation, which ultimately leads to prosperity. What Nasa is doing is a necessary investment that will primarily benefit this country in the long run. I am so tired of these spin rooms talking points!

    March 16, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Deven

    Anyway heard of the water bear (tardigrades)? It is an incredible creature and it can survive almost anywhere. They can survive in temperatures ranging from absolute zero to 303 degrees Fahrenheit. They can also live for about a decade without water, can survive 1000 times the amount of radiation a human can and can survive in the vacuum of space. I wonder if this shrimp can do better,

    March 16, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
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