Nature: Rather than being a benign block of ice, Antarctica may be teeming with microbial life. Next week Martin Siegert of the University of Bristol in the UK and colleagues will travel to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to drill into Lake Ellsworth, one of some 380 subglacial lakes in Antarctica. It is thought that those lakes could host exotic bacteria that derive their energy from rocks and minerals. Although all the lakes have been explored remotely with radar, Lake Ellsworth will be only the second one to be physically breached via drilling. Earlier this year a Russian team explored Lake Vostok, the largest and deepest of the Antarctic lakes, but so far those researchers have not found any native microbes. Siegert believes Lake Ellsworth may be the better place to look because it is much smaller than Lake Vostok, its overlying ice is twice as “warm,” and the ice is thinner by almost a kilometer.