MOSCOW — Russian scientists say drills have reached an ancient freshwater lake the size of Lake Ontario, more than 12,000 feet below the ice surface in Antarctica.
Lake Vostok is the largest of more than 280 lakes sealed under miles of ice beneath the Antarctic continent.
The drilling project, which has been ongoing for a decade, punched through over the weekend, reaching waters that have been untouched by the outside world for anywhere between 15 million and 34 million years.
Scientists are excited by the possibility that the freshwater lake, trapped below two miles of solid ice, could hold unknown life forms. One scientist compared the moment to the first flight into space.
Researchers are expected to return during the next Antarctic season to take samples of the water from the lake.
Interactive: The 'Lost World' of Lake Vostok