Home Science Biology NASA surprised: Shrimp swimming under Antarctic ice

A NASA research team drilled an eight-inch hole into an Antarctic ice sheet and deployed a video camera over 600 feet down. To their utter surprise, they found a shrimp-like creature swimming around, oblivious to the fact that humans did not expect it could survive in such hostile conditions. Guess they were wrong!

 

Between November 9, 2009 and December 10, 2009, NASA scientist Robert Bindschadler, an Antarctic researcher based out of the Goddard Space Flight Center, led an expedition to Wrinless Bight, Antarctica.

Along with him were researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Navel Postgraduate School, and the University of Alaska.

Their goal was to drill an eight-inch wide hole through a 200-meter (650-foot) thick ice shelf and explore the hidden world underneath with a video camera system. They were over 12 miles (20 kilometers) from seasonally open water.

The results of their mission produced the first-ever photograph of the underside of an ice shelf.

However, to top it all off, the researchers also found a three-inch long "Lyssianasid amphipod" swimming around in waters they assumed would only harbor very simple life forms such as microbes

Lysianassidae is a family of amphipods (Amphipoda), which is an order of animals that includes over seven thousand species of shrimp-like crustaceans.

In fact, the orangish-colored creature swam to the camera, and clung to the cable of the camera system, for a close-up look at the strange-looking apparatus.

Page two continues with more information on this creature, and the NASA research. There is an amazing video, too, if you will read the rest of the story.

 



At such a location, six hundred fifty feet (200 meters) below the ice where light does not shine, the researchers only expected to find very simple life forms.

 

They did not even think about seeing more advanced forms of life, such as the shrimp-like creature, being called the 'Lyssianasid amphidod.'

When they retrieved the camera system, they also found a long tentacle possibly from a jelly fish that is thought to have been about one foot in length.

To say the least, the NASA scientists were quite surprised. And, their amazement at such a discovery is spreading throughout the scientific community.

Now, scientists have for the first time found a higher form of life, specifically the "Lyssianasid amphidod," living (and surviving quite well) underneath a large Antarctic ice sheet.

Dr. Bindschadler exclaimed in the March 15, 2010 Associated Press article 'NASA finds shrimp dinner on ice beneath Antarctica', "We were operating on the presumption that nothing's there'¦. It was a shrimp you'd enjoy having on your plate'¦. "We were just gaga over it."

A descriptive picture of the shrimp-like creature and the video camera system underneath the ice sheet is found at the AP webpage 'Lyssianasid amphipod and video camera.'


Page three provides a video, showing even more amazing images of the event below the ice sheet.

 


 

Even more amazing is a video of the event, which shows the shrimp-like creature swimming by the camera system. It is seen at the YouTube.com video 'Scientists discover shrimp below Antarctic ice.'

The NASA article 'Ice Shelf Drilling and Ocean Cavity Exploration' (you'll be asked to open or save the article) by Dr. Robert Bindschadler, from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, explains more about their journey of exiting discoveries.

And, the discovery by the NASA team furthers the debate as to how easily it will be to find extraterrestrial creates in the solar system.

If higher-forms of life are able to survive underneath the hostile environment of Antarctic ice, would it be possible for creatures to survive and prosper on other planets and moons, such as Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Titan?

These places, out there in our solar system (and beyond on exoplanets orbiting stars other than the Sun) are also very hostile environments to support life'”but maybe ones that are not impossible to support life?

Interesting discussions of the possibility of extraterrestrial life on such celestial bodies, as related to this latest discovery of shrimp under ice sheets in Antarctic, is found at the 3.16.2010 Christian Science Monitor's article 'Does Antarctic shrimp (lyssianasid amphipod) mean extraterrestrial life?


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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University

 

 

 

 

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