According to Fox News on Tuesday, the National Science Foundation announced it was canceling the U.S. Antarctic research program for this year because of the ongoing government shutdown.
More than 10 years of planning, $10 million of government funding and tireless work from the team that discovered life in a lake buried beneath an Antarctic glacier earlier this year may largely go to waste because of the government shutdown.
Scientists and contractors already stationed at the three U.S. science bases on Antarctica will be sent home and a small staff left behind to maintain the structures and equipment, the National Science Foundation said.
Though the NSF said it would work to restart science activities after the government shutdown ends, many U.S. scientists will miss their timing window for the summer research season, which started Thursday.
"It makes the blood boil," said Ross Powell, a geologist at Northern Illinois University and chief scientist for the WISSARD project, the first drilling expedition to discover life in a buried Antarctic lake.
Last year, the team drilled the first ever hole into a lake buried under roughly half a mile (0.8 kilometers) of ice. Researchers discovered microbial life within this remote environment, and deployed a series of environmental sensors that would measure temperature and other conditions through the following year.
This year, Powell and his colleagues planned to drill into the spot where the Whillans Ice Stream meets the sea. Remote sensing surveys suggests water flows from the buried Lake Whillans into the ocean underneath the Ross Ice Shelf, creating a hidden, estuary-like setting.
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