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. Gary O.

    Just a thought. If they can determine that this shrimp is rather common in this environment, they should catch some and dissect some and study live specimens of others and see what it eats and how it evolved to adapt to those conditions. It may give them a more realistic understanding of what qualities life may have in an environment such as Europa. I'm sure some people will disagree, but if they are common, taking a few for study would be a good idea.

    March 16, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    NASA's entire budget is less than 0.2% of the military's.

    March 16, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Colleen

    Amazing little creature! It could have escaped the mess we humans have been creating in the oceans above.

    March 16, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. what the...

    Why is NASA drilling? that is a large hole diameter and imuch deeper than 600 feet.
    Makes no sense except the reason why NASA is being dissolved.

    March 16, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. runnermax1

    it may seem insignificant, but it is very interesting indeed

    March 16, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Melanie

    Poor little thing, minding it's own business and suddenly this alien thing comes down, and rocks it's little world! it will never be the same again.....

    March 16, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff

    Okay for the people who thought NASA went looking for a new species READ THE ARTICLE!!! They were drilling to take a picture of the bottom of the ice shelf

    March 16, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. romy

    So you think this 3-inch shrimp is insignificant? Think of all the possibilities and excitement when us humans would finally have the means to explore the other places out there. The possibilities are endless and I just can't wait to get the confirmation that life exists elsewhere in the universe.

    March 16, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. David Merchant

    For those complaining about wasting tax dollars, I hope you complained much much louder about the dramatically higher wastes of tax dollars – NASA's budget is loose pocket change. And we get back returns on that investment at least. New technologies that we use in every day life, from medical advances, to better firefighting, to telecommunications, to computers – the list is long. Exploration and innovation is what made America great. Complaining about NASA's budget is straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel. God gave us a brain to explore and learn about His creation. Test all things, keep that which is good, as the New Testament says.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. HollyBlue

    I am stunned by the large amount of anti-science sentiment expressed in these comments. It scares me to realize what a large percentage of people have their head firmly buried in the sand, dismissing all of science as some conspiracy against religion. What if God wanted us to explore our world and gain new knowledge? I just cannot believe this huge amount of willful ignorance.

    March 17, 2010 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. jeff

    scientists are too excited to see life at 600 feet below the ice and i'm sure they will go mad if they discover a lice on the surface of mars...we humans are crazy..why do we keep on looking for life outside our planet ( we are bound to fail to find) but look at what we are doing right now we are killing each other, abortion clinics are everywhere...we can just appreciate our very existence then we will be satisfied...i do beleive in creation and i do believe there is no life outside our planet....

    March 17, 2010 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. Gary O.

    People are asking why they went through 600' of ice if they didn't expect to find any life down there. Perhaps, they drilled the hole and sent the camera down to practice operating in these conditions as practice for the future exploration of extra-terrestrial bodies with similar environments. Their chances of success while operating millions of miles away will be greatly increased if they improve their techniques and equipment while practicing here on Earth. It's a lot cheaper than "going out there" for practice.

    March 17, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jo

    After skipping down and reading so many complaints and whining about why aren't we concentrating on what's above, we've pretty much destroyed this planet we "care so much about" and need too find as many new resources we can get. At first thought I did think "Great, the'll find something new and emmidiately kil it" But on second thought, they'll breed it I'm sure. for study, and human consumtion. not too mention what else we can find down there an what else it could open up.

    March 17, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John Clark

    Man keeps re-discovering that he is not the measure of things..... What is "impossible" or "unknown", but a confession of his limitations and ignorance? It certainly says nothing about God, who has been enjoying this and a trillion other impossible and unknown things all along. 🙂

    March 17, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Veronica

    Why haven't there been any released footage of the cameras footage that captured these creatures.

    March 17, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
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