Enceladus becomes a primary space exploration target

Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 01:18 pm


The cause of this unexpected interest in Enceladus – first observed by William Herschel in 1789 and named after one of the children of the Earth goddess Gaia – stems from a discovery made by the robot spacecraft Cassini, which has been in orbit of Saturn for the past eight years. The $3bn probe has shown that the little moon not only has an atmosphere, but that geysers of water are erupting from its surface into space. Even more astonishing has been its most recent discovery, which has shown that these geysers contain complex organic compounds, including propane, ethane, and acetylene.

“It just about ticks every box you have when it comes to looking for life on another world,” says Nasa astrobiologist Chris McKay. “It has got liquid water, organic material and a source of heat. It is hard to think of anything more enticing short of receiving a radio signal from aliens on Enceladus telling us to come and get them.”

Cassini’s observations suggest Enceladus possesses a subterranean ocean that is kept liquid by the moon’s internal heat. “We are not sure where that energy is coming from,” McKay admits. “The source is producing around 16 gigawatts of power and looks very like the geothermal energy sources we have on Earth – like the deep vents we see in our ocean beds and which bubble up hot gases.” ........
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Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 03:47 pm
when the earth is consumed by our subd death throes. we will be able to populate a world and terraform it. All the inner planets up to Mars will be too hot on which to live.
Then as the sun shrinks aback to a dwar4f, the timetable of a few hundred thousand years would give us a bit of time to book other flights out.
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Reply Wed 1 Aug, 2012 07:59 pm
Moons (throughout the galaxy) may turn out to be a better place to find (simple) life than planets.
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