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OPINION

Russian scientists reach lake under Antarctica

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MOSCOW (AP) — After more than two decades of drilling in Antarctica, Russian scientists have reached the surface of a gigantic freshwater lake hidden under miles of ice for some 20 million years — a lake that may hold life from the distant past and clues to the search for life on other planets.

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Reaching Lake Vostok is a major discovery avidly anticipated by scientists around the world hoping that it may allow a glimpse into microbial life forms, not visible to the naked eye, that existed before the Ice Age. It may also provide precious material that would help look for life on the ice-crusted moons of Jupiter and Saturn or under Mars' polar ice caps where conditions could be similar.

"It's like exploring another planet, except this one is ours," Columbia University glaciologist Robin Bell told The Associated Press by email.

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