Antarctic team calls off drilling mission

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British scientists who were attempting to drill beneath Antarctica in a search for undiscovered life have called off their mission.

A Bristol University team was trying to drill through 3km of ice to reach the water and mud underneath Lake Ellsworth.

But late on Monday the decision was taken to stop as the team was unable to form properly the water-filled cavity 300m beneath the ice. This cavity was to link the main borehole with a secondary borehole used to re-circulate drilling water.

Professor Martin Siegert, who was leading the team, said: “Although circumstances have not worked out as we would have wished, I am confident that through the huge efforts of the field team, and our colleagues in the UK, we have done as much as we possibly could have done.”