[FPSPACE] Can Cassini be Used to Detect Life on Enceladus?
ljk4 at msn.com
Mon Nov 3 22:13:23 EST 2008
November 3, 2008
Can Cassini be Used to Detect Life on Enceladus?
Written by Ian O'Neill
Having just returned the most detailed images yet of Saturn's 500km-wide
moon Enceladus, it is little wonder scientists are excited about this
mysterious natural satellite. However, in new research recently published,
the results aren't related to the recent "skeet shot" Cassini carried out
above the moon's south pole (although there is some common ground). The
paper's origins started out in July 2005 when Enceladus' plume of gas
(containing organic compounds) was discovered fizzing from the moon's
surface, inside the "tiger stripes" just imaged by Cassini.
In some computer models, this plume is attributed to a sub-surface ocean.
This possibility has led scientists to speculate that it might be an ideal
environment for basic forms of life to thrive. What's more, although the
Cassini spacecraft isn't equipped to directly search for life, it may be
able to detect the signature of life
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