Antarctica's Lake Vostok is enormous but has not been seen by humanity. Nor will it be drilled into by machinery until risks of contamination can be eliminated. Vostok's liquid water is thought to resemble that beneath the ice of Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. Like that location, Vostok is cut off from light, heat and a known nutrient supply. It is underneath two miles of South Polar Plateau ice. Drillings of ice in its vicinity are to approach no closer than 393 feet above it.
In the December 10, 1999 issue of Science, University of Hawaii and Montana State University scientists wrote about the hidden lake in a number of articles. One of these was entitled "Microorganisms in the Accreted Ice of Lake Vostok, Antarctica." Written about were the many types of bacteria found in some ice 11,700 feet below surface level. The bacteria had managed to survive millions of years in the dark and cold. Their existence bids well for the probability of life in Vostok itself.
Source: New York Times, 12/13/99; www.sciencemag.org