Enceladus has stripes and it’s off-gassing water ice into the Saturn’s e-ring that are packed with complex hydrocarbons based on recent revelations from the Cassini probe, published in various journals.

That doesn’t mean life is present, but it does portend interesting processes in the heated interior of Enceladus’ salt water oceans.

Europa (a much larger moon) orbits Jupiter with the same sort of profile, but nobody knows if the two interiors are alike, warm, liquid, mineral rich, water notwithstanding.

SETI has been a disappointment, but they were looking for intelligent life. The search for extraterrestrial life is very different and can take place (relatively close to home).

“Enceladus discoveries have changed the direction of planetary science,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Multiple discoveries have increased our understanding of Enceladus, including the plume venting from its south pole; hydrocarbons in the plume; a global, salty ocean and hydrothermal vents on the seafloor. They all point to the possibility of a habitable ocean world well beyond Earth’s habitable zone. Planetary scientists now have Enceladus to consider as a possible habitat for life.”

The question is whether humanity can keep its act together long enough to go out there and take a closer look at things.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I am reminded of the series “The Expanse” wherein mining water is central to the the plot line.
    So was: “whether humanity can keep its act together long enough to go out there and take a closer look at things.”

    • I’ve read “The Expanse” book series and have seen some of the TV series. It’s well written. However, finding ice wouldn’t seem to be a large problem in our solar system anyway. Jupiter has an inexhaustible supply with Europa and Saturn with Enceladus, and neither has much gravity so hauling it off wouldn’t be difficult. The problem for humans is radiation that close to either Saturn or Jupiter, and being able to shield them so that they’re not cooked. The same is true of the void between Earth and the deep space destinations in the books. There is some radiation belt protection between Earth and the Moon, but the problem becomes acute once you’re out, beyond that point.

  2. One of the planetary scientists who has been at the forefront from the Voyager days, Carolyn Porco, has been pushing an effort to get a probe to Enceladus funded. Interesting place. They’re talking about flying a probe to collect samples from those geysers and bring it back to Earth. I’d like to live long enough to see that.

    • Yes, Carolyn Porco is definitely one of the old hands these days, and maybe by lending her weight to the project she can get it on the front burner. Mars 2020 is now Mars 2022. I don’t know how much money will be thrown at non-military space missions in the near term. The Chinese Plague messed everything up. I’m with you, it would be exciting to see what the found.

  3. Why is it when extraterrestrials arrive it’s always at some backwoods place to abduct Egger for testing and not downtown NYC…do they know something we don’t?

    Sometimes I stand on my deck at night and say “Bring it on boys, plenty of pasture to land.” But nuthin’ ever happens.

    • The space ship in The Day The Earth Stood Still landed in central park and Klaatu walked out. What more do you want?

      To be fair, I like GORT (Genetically Organized Robotic Technology) because he kicked ass. But that’s just me.

      • Sorry was outside again to check if the ET boys had landed…nope. Theres always tomorrow.

        As for Central Park landing…THAT WAS REAL!? Well now, apparently one look at NYC was enough. Say GORT now and kids want to know how to install the app.

  4. It’s like a big round permanent orbiting comet.
    Bet it’s got all the complex proteins and compounds for life to form in a liquid soup under the frozen surface.

    I truly hope SpaceX kicks ass. Puts human’s into outer space.
    Can’t happen fast enough.
    As Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle said “Its raining soup up there!”
    I’d give a lot to be in my early twenties, be a part of the final frontier.

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