Skip to content

Hello Enceladus! Forget Mars, here's where extraterrestrial life can be found in the solar system

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/4/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Enceladus overtakes Mars with discovery of ocean.

Astronomers believe they have found proof that Saturn's icy moon Enceladus hosts a deep saltwater ocean. Scientists say that of such an ocean exists, it may be the most likely place in the solar system, rather than on Mars, to find life elsewhere besides Earth.

Jets of water, rich in organic molecules spew over the icy surface of Enceladus.

Jets of water, rich in organic molecules spew over the icy surface of Enceladus.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/4/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Enceladus, Saturn, life, moon, ocean, water


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Astronomers studying gravitational measurements of Enceladus say they have found evidence that a deep saltwater ocean may exist under the thick icy surface of Saturn's pearl-white moon.

The measurements were made with the Cassini space probe which has been looping through the Saturn system since 2004. The measurements suggest that a 10km-deep ocean of water exists deep under the ice on Enceladus.

St. Dominic, the patron saint of astronomers.

Gravitational measurements allow scientists to map the interior of planets and moons because different materials of varying densities have an influence on gravity. As the probe swept past the moon on several passes, scientists noticed that it was being slowed or sped up at different times. Measuring this subtle shift in radio waves allowed them to map the interior of the moon.

Scientists also know that water exists on Enceladus because in 2005 they captured jets of water vapor spewing from the moon's south pole.

The jets of water and the gravitational mapping results suggests that an ocean of water may exist beneath the ice, heated by underwater volcanism. The gravitational squeeze exerted on Enceladus as it orbits Saturn keeps the interior of the moon hot which means temperatures beneath the ice are warm enough to allow liquid water to exist.

Enceladus joins Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter as another body with liquid water, yet Enceladus has one distinctive feature that Europa lacks, that is the water on Enceladus is rich with organic molecules.

Wherever water exists, there too could be life. Water in the essential medium, so far as biologists know, where life can evolve. Scientists are keen to answer the question of how common - or rare life is in the universe. It is very likely that the ocean on Enceladus is sterile. Yet being rich in organic molecules, the kind thought to be present before life was created on Earth, makes Enceladus the best possible candidate for life within the solar system, aside from Earth itself.

The next step will be to plan a mission to the icy moon. Such planning could easily take a decade or more. Still, the recent discovery moves Enceladus to the front of the pack for priority simply because scientists are very anxious to know.

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for SEPTEMBER 2017
Parishes.
That our parishes, animated by a missionary spirit, may be places where faith is communicated and charity is seen.


Comments


More Technology

Planet Niburu: What's going to happen on September 23? Watch

Image of Is planet Niburu real? And does it pose a threat to Earth?

September 23 is a worrisome date for millions of people who believe that a massive planet will affect the Earth as it passes by in space. ... continue reading


Scientists plan to phone E.T. at home, but it could be a bad idea. Here's why Watch

Image of Scientists plan to starts calling nearby planets at the end of 2018.

Scientists plan to send a signal into deep space to see if aliens are out there. However, experts warn we could endanger humanity by doing ... continue reading


Cassini's reward for 13 years of service is a fiery death. Here's why Watch

Image of A NASA rendition of Cassini's final dive in Saturn.

Goodbye to Cassini, the space probe that was launched in 1997 and spent six years travelling, and over thirteen years exploring Saturn and ... continue reading


Is the end of Google near? Internet giant may soon become target of anti-trust laws around the world Watch

Image of Has Google become a monopoly?

Google is getting too big for its own good, or so some experts are warning. Talk of anti-trust measures against the internet giant is ... continue reading


UFO Seekers use a telescope to capture images of the secret Area 51 base where people can be SHOT on sight Watch

Image of Area 51 is off limits to the public and is heavily patrolled. Sensors also detect anyone approaching the perimeter.

Hikers and UFO enthusiasts have captured clear, new images of the secretive Area 51 base in Nevada using a telescope and camera. The photos ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.