Either of these, likely, findings will be a scientifically significant and a triumph over the testing conditions. It may also provide the impetus for another firm favourite of science fiction – the search for extraterrestrial life. Vostok has long been thought of as an analogue for the sub-surface oceans that exist in our solar system; in places like the Jovian moons of Europa and Ganymede. If we find life at Vostok, the thinking goes, it could give us clues for what we should look for on these extraterrestrial water worlds. And the techniques we use to explore the deep Antarctic could allow us to perfect the technology that we will require to hunt for and sample any alien creatures.
There is no mission on the cards just yet, but there have been some intriguing proposals put forward including one for a nuclear-powered “cryobot” to melt through the ice into the waters below. Once there, a “hydrobot” would be deployed to sniff out our alien cousins.
If that sounds like science with a dose of fiction, think again. Prototypes of less ambitious craft have already been built and tested in the Arctic and Antarctic. And it is possible that it is the kind of technology that could eventually slip into Vostok.
If and when it does, it could calm some of the prehistoric hysterics we have read and heard over recent weeks. And maybe it will finally put an end to the kind of stories that will try to suggest the liquid given Putin was yellow because it contained urine from living dinosaurs.