A cold breeze blew off the Antarctic plain, numbing the noses and ears of scientists standing around a dark hole in the ice. Flecks of ice crackled off a winch as it reeled the last few meters of cable out of the hole. Two workers in sterile suits leaned over to grab the payload — a cylinder the length of a baseball bat — dangling at the end of the cable. They used a hammer to chip away the ice and a blow drier to thaw part of the assembly. “Did it close?” asked the winch operator.
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