Enceladus

Richly covered menu in the Enceladus ocean Enceladus

Richly covered menu in the Enceladus ocean

Life needs energy for its existence. The more extensive and diverse the supplies of a potential ecosystem are, the more stable the communities that develop there can be. For Saturn's moon Enceladus, a new study now indicates that a diverse metabolic menu could support a potentially diverse microbial community in the liquid-water ocean beneath the moon's icy skin. Using data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, scientists at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) have modeled the chemical processes in the subsurface ocean of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Before its deorbit in September 2017, Cassini studied the cloud of ice grains and water…
Where the geysers on Europa could come from Enceladus

Where the geysers on Europa could come from

There are several worlds - usually moons - in the solar system, where it appears that life-friendly conditions could exist in the oceans below their crust. Whether this is really the case, we will only know after we have drilled through the ice and checked (as is done in The Enceladus Mission). A new paper by researchers from Stanford University, the University of Arizona, the University of Texas and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is now lowering hopes somewhat. As the researchers show, some eruptions may not come from the depths of the oceans, but from water pockets embedded in…
Fresh frozen items delivered to Enceladus’s north pole too Enceladus

Fresh frozen items delivered to Enceladus’s north pole too

No, unfortunately nobody’s opened a new Ben and Jerry’s on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. Not yet, at least. But a new paper just published in the magazine, Icarus, shows again just how valuable the images are from the joint NASA-ESA mission Cassini, even years after the probe was intentionally crashed into Saturn. Specifically, Cassini also delivered the most detailed global infrared images ever taken of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Combined with photos of Cassini’s other cameras, they provide convincing evidence that the northern hemisphere of the moon is covered with relatively fresh ice from its interior. The scientists that were part of…
How a steam-powered robot could explore Enceladus Enceladus

How a steam-powered robot could explore Enceladus

The thing designated SPARROW that engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory want to send to the icy moons of Enceladus and Europa has nothing at all in common with its namesake bird. Americans and scientists love acronyms, and the designation SPARROW came from the name “Steam Propelled Autonomous Retrieval Robot for Ocean Worlds.” The project is part of the “NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts” program (NIAC), whose current candidates were announced by NASA earlier in Spring 2020. SPARROW stands out because it uses a very old propulsion solution from the start of the Industrial Age. But instead of coal for…
What’s going on at the bottom of Enceladus’s oceans? Enceladus

What’s going on at the bottom of Enceladus’s oceans?

Along with Mars, Saturn’s moon, Titan, and Jupiter’s moon, Europa, another of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, has long topped the list of locations to search for possible extraterrestrial life. The last probe to study it, Cassini, gave up the ghost in a fiery descent through Saturn’s atmosphere, but new discoveries are still being made in the data it transmitted back to Earth, as an article in Geophysical Research Letters shows. Dr. Christopher Glein, the main author of the study, explained: “We came up with a new technique for analyzing the plume composition to estimate the concentration of dissolved CO2 in the…
How the ice moon Enceladus got its tiger stripes Enceladus

How the ice moon Enceladus got its tiger stripes

Saturn’s ice moon, Enceladus, is one of the most promising worlds in terms of the search for places where extraterrestrial life might exist. Of course, as a reader of the Ice Moon series, you’ve already known that for a long time. Near its south pole there are deep fissures in its crust, through which water is constantly being forced outward. This allows researchers to look under the ice, which is up to 100 kilometers thick, without having to drill through it. A new study tries to explain the unusual appearance of these sulci, which are also called “tiger stripes.”…
New organic molecules discovered on Saturn’s moon Enceladus Enceladus

New organic molecules discovered on Saturn’s moon Enceladus

Two years ago, the Cassini probe was sent plummeting into Saturn to its fiery demise – but researchers are still finding new discoveries in the data it sent back. Now, scientists from the Free University Berlin have reported findings from the CDA, the “Cosmic Dust Analyzer,” which was on board Cassini. This instrument was developed in Germany and was designed to study very small particles. The CDA could detect particles with a velocity of 5 kilometers per second and a mass of only 1013 grams (a ten-millionth of a millionth of a gram, which corresponds to a size of two-thousands of…
Complex organic molecules from the depths of Enceladus Enceladus

Complex organic molecules from the depths of Enceladus

The Cassini probe that sent us the spectacular pictures of tiger stripes on Saturn’s moon Enceladus and that flew through the ice plumes there several times has long since crashed into Saturn. Nevertheless, scientists are still discovering more and more new details from the data that it sent. Now a research team led by Frank Postberg and Nozair Khawaja from the University of Heidelberg have succeeded in identifying fragments of complex organic molecules in the particles ejected from the ice geysers. “This is the first-ever detection of complex organics coming from an extraterrestrial water world,” says Postberg. “we found large fragments…