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. mirza

    too true, either we eat it or have it in a zoo or destroy it or all of the above

    March 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jasmine

    Are you kidding me? We are CLOSING PUBLIC SCOOLS accross the nation but our government pays for this Exploration in wasted time? Yeah I wonder why our country is in the state its in! Did these Scientits have a outback BBQ after ther discovery? So disapointed in my government.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Midwestboy72

    Good job NASA. Not sure why NASA was the agency in charge of this project, but either way it's pretty cool. Mankind has always been explorers. That's what we do. We look for the next thing. Exploration is always money well spent in this tax payer's eyes.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. will

    To those who wonder why we spend money on such things: space exploration's practice for looking for life on another planet–which someday we may need. Yes, perhaps even Europa (btw folks that's not a reference Europe, but one of the moons in our solar system... look it up 😉

    March 16, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. john

    Nice try but I know a missing fishing lure when I see one.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    Last time I checked most of the people that work at NASA are Americans and it is a job. It seems to me that the ones who complain the most about the out of control government spending that want the money allocated to saving their jobs are the same ones who want to complain that all of their jobs are going over seas. If you really want a capitalist economy then suck it up and work for the same wage that the guys down in Ecuador are willing to work for. If you won't do that then what you really want is a subsidized and protected job at everyone elses expense. You socialist. When America stops scientific exploration to save production jobs then we will truly fall further behind the countries who emphasize things like science, and education. Stop being so short sighted and realize that exploration and discovery are the things that really made us great in the first place, not overpaid factory workers and outrageous wages paid for sloppy work.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lorena Ortega

    I also support what Nasa is doing...I am always glad to read about discoveries like this one.....Whatever it is that they are trying to discover, I hope they find their objective.... WE NEED TO BE MORE KIND TO OUR EARTH and EACH OTHER....It's the only place we have to live, atleast for know..................

    March 16, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sooner

    We just think we know everything.......:)

    March 16, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. moderate mel

    My liberal brother informed me that this is proof of global warming since it was too cold for them to live there before they found this one!

    March 16, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rich

    Doreen Me – Its the North Pole that is melting. Antarctic ice is actually growing for the most part, except for one penninsula at its most northern point. What I find interesting is that for life to exist in one location you need a food chain. Someone already mentioned smaller life is needed to feed the shrimp, so what about bigger creatures that eat the shrimp? I mean other than the NASA explorers. How many shrimp do you think are down there?

    March 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. grasspike

    This article leaves a lot out of the whole story. This was not in the ocean but rather in a large lake that has 600' of ice on top of it. The camera was sent down because they were looking for life. They thought that they might find bacteria or single cell or microscopic organisms down there similar to warter fleas. They were surprised to find shrimp.

    The dril worked by melting the water and then boiling it around the probe. The idea behind this was to kill any microbes that might be on the probe so that nothing would be introduced in the water below.

    NASA is doing this because they want to do something similar on objects in space and want to test it out first on Earth where it is much easier and cheaper to do so.

    Having said all that it is still a huge waste of money that we don't have at the moment.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. snowmaker

    That means life can live on other planets. No light, no heat, no oxygen, doesn't matter any longer. We evolved because we had natural bigger enemies that chased us up trees and force us to figure out how to survive on the ground when the trees were gone. Then we figured out how to kill them and eat them and thus the bigger brain power. I’ve seen beetles walk next to lava and fish so far down that only unmanned cameras can see them. Animals on this planet that can live in temperatures from -40 to 500 degrees, 10x atmospheric pressure. How dare we now say that life cannot exist beyond Earth. Only the truly sick and religious would think of such a thing.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve

    Isn't this how half of HP Lovecraft's stories started out? Next they'll be releasing the Shoggoth!

    March 16, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gerald R. Pitts

    Did NASA record the water temp @ 600 ft? what was the water temp?

    March 16, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lauren

    Amusing comments. Now lets get real. We messed in our own bed on this planet. Wiould you throw gargage out your kitchen window in your back yard? Probably not, but people do from moving vehicles, walking down the street.... What am i getting at, maybe requiring a new 'planet' (hence Nasa's involvement to anyone not paying attention) to live on. Environments there and being adaptable to them.

    And yes, that shrimp was pink, where did the light come from the transform it to colour.

    Is anyone not paying attention to wny NASA needs to make new discoveries. What took them so long to look under the ice shelf, that should have been a given.... however I do agree with introducing harmful bacteria etc, into that prestine environment.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
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