A team of Russian, American, and British scientists are prepared to explore lakes deep under Antarctica's glaciers, boring 3.8 km-2.5 miles into Antarctic ice to contact an ancient lake that had been undisturbed for millions of years. Valery Lukin, head of the Russian mission will study Lake Vostok sample such that exotic microbes with a 15 million-year-old pedigree may provide clues about life on other planets. Also, British and American scientists will launch their own major explorations of two other subterranean waterways on the continent. In particular, the American scientists will check to see how microorganisms in Whillans' waters are metabolizing iron and how this metabolism contributes to global geochemistry cycles. The British mission, also set to start late 2012, is focused on Lake Ellsworth, a fjordlike lake that has been isolated from the outside world for about half a million years.