By ROB COOPER
Russian scientists have finally drilled down through four kilometres of Antarctic ice to a lake that has been sealed for the last 20 million years.
Veteran Antarctic researcher Professor John Priscu says that he expects to see ‘unique organisms’ in the lake.
But it was revealed this may not be the only surprise from sub-glacial Lake Vostok, a body of water as large as Lake Ontario.
As scientists began the search for new life, a state-run news agency in Russia claimed that an extraordinary cache of Hitler’s archives may be buried in a secret Nazi ice bunker near the spot where yesterday’s breakthrough was made.
‘It is thought that towards the end of the Second World War, the Nazis moved to the South Pole and started constructing a base at Lake Vostok,’ claimed RIA Novosti, the Russian state news agency. It cited Admiral Karl Dontiz in 1943 saying ‘Germany’s submarine fleet is proud that it created an unassailable fortress for the Fuehrer on the other end of the world’, in Antarctica.
According to German naval archives, months after the Nazis surrendered to the Allies in April 1945, a U-530 submarine arrived at the South Pole from the Port of Kiel.
The crew are rumoured to have constructed a still undiscovered ice cave ‘and supposedly stored several boxes of relics from the Third Reich, including Hitler’s secret files’.
A later claim was that a U-977 submarine delivered remains of Hitler and Eva Braun to Antarctica in the hope they could be cloned from their DNA. The submariners then went to Argentina to surrender, it was claimed.
Microbiologists say that the lake could offer a glimpse of unique life forms. The project has been closely watched by both NASA and the Russian Space Agency.
One hope is that it will give a glimpse of conditions on Jupiter’s moon Europa where water is also believed to exist under a thick ice cover.
‘The discovery of microorganisms in Lake Vostok may mean that, perhaps, the first meeting with extraterrestrial life could happen on Europa,’ said Dr Vladimir Kotlyakov, Director of the Geography Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Specialists at the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute will now test a sample of water that has been sucked from the lake, and frozen.
Could the Russian ‘station’ near Lake Vostok contain the remains of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun?