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Putin promises additional funding for Russia's Antarctic exploration works

January 26, 2015, 18:28 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG
Putin was told about a successful drilling effort to a depth of 3,769 meters to reach subglacial Lake Vostok in Antarctica
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Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

© ITAR-TASS/Alexey Nikolsky

ST. PETERSBURG, January 26. /TASS/. Russian authorities will look at allocating additional funds to finance research works at Russia’s Antarctic station Vostok, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

Putin visited the National Mining University Gorny, where he was told about a successful drilling effort to a depth of 3,769 meters to reach subglacial Lake Vostok in Antarctica that had been completed on Sunday. Researchers told the president they were on the verge of new discoveries, since reaching this relic lake that had been sealed by ice for about 1.5 billion years was on a par with the first moon landing.

The president was asked by a student if it is possible to allocate additional funds to modernize the Vostok station in Antarctic. Putin said that the government had allocated funds at the very beginning of Vostok’s operation. “Probably, they are not enough. We shall see what can be done,” the president said, adding that such research works are of great importance.

Located in the Antarctic some 1,260 kilometers off the coastline at an altitude of 3,499 meters above sea level, the Vostok station is known for the most severe climatic conditions. It is the coldest place on the entire Earth. Now, in the deep of Antarctic summer, air temperatures range from minus 24.1 degrees Celsius in the daytime to minus 37.6 degrees at night. Drilling can be performed here only during the warmest period.

Lake Vostok, measuring 250 by 50 kilometers, was discovered by the 33rd Russian Antarctic Expedition in 1987. It lies beneath some four kilometers of ice and measures 50 by 250 kilometers. Drilling was launched in 1989. Three years ago, the drilling bit came into contact with the relic lake at a depth of 3,769 meters. About 30-40 liters of water were lifted from the lake. Water samples were found to contain traces of living organisms, yet unknown cold-resistant bacteria. However there were no 100% guarantee that these bacteria had originated from the subglacial lake, since water samples were polluted with priming water from the well. Months later however the water in the lake rose and froze at the level of 363 meters. The explorers had to drill a new well parallel to the old one from the depth of 3,406 meters.

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