Underground Ocean found on Saturn's Moon, New Data Suggests

Underground Ocean found on Saturn's Moon, New Data Suggests

Enceladus

New data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft suggests that Saturn's moon Enceladus may have a large ocean beneath its icy surface, with essential elements for life possibly present.

While Jupiter's moon Europa has been stealing the show of late in the search for extraterrestrial liquid water, Saturn's moon Enceladus has entered the ring as a serious contender. New data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft suggest that an ocean at least the size of Lake Superior lies below a thick ice layer on the moon's southern pole.

Enceladus' north pole has a thickness of ice around 30 miles deep sitting above solid rock. The results of the data, published in the journal Science, suggest that the south pole's 18 to 24 mile deep ice cap sits atop an ocean that is 5 to 10 miles deep. The ocean appears to sit on top of a rocky core and "may extend halfway or more towards the equator in every direction," said study co-author David Stevenson, professor of planetary science at California Institute of Technology, in a press conference.

"As far as whether one should go first to Europa or Enceladus, I look at this as a kind of a cornucopia of habitable environments in the outer solar system," study co-author Jonathan Lunine of Cornell University said in a press conference.

If the rock on which the ocean sits is composed primarily of silicate minerals, as data suggests, then water circulating through the rocks could pick up elements such as phosphorous, sulfur, potassium and sodium. These elements are necessary for making molecules essential to life, Lunine said.

Cassini has also detected organic molecules, which may arise from either biological or non-biological sources, in certain regions of the moon.

Source: CNN

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One small step for man, one large leap for finding alien babes.

Though I wonder what life forms would develop under such thick ice. Anything is possible I suppose, considering how resilient life can be.

I for one welcome our new potential alien overlords.

Kajin:
I for one welcome our new potential alien overlords.

I'm afraid our new potential alien overlords were eliminated by the robotic overlords they built, sorry. Projections also indicate the robotic overlords will likely be exterminated by the nano-robotic overlords they have currently built sometime in the near future.

Very little chance of life on either moon, but, water can be broken down into a breathable atmosphere for humans, if there is enough of it, which could make teraforming the moons a possibility. There are a few moons that we could do that to actually.

Of course, since we are not anywhere near setting up a permanent base even on OUR moon, let alone mars or any planets further out then that...it really doesn't matter much. Truth be told, in order for the human race to survive long enough to make any of that matter, we'll need cold fusion, and once we have cold fusion, space exploration is going to be WAAAY easier. So yeah, I'm not really worried about space much till we cover our bases on our own planet. I've heard some rumors we might have cold fusion the way things are going in the next 10-15 years, so possibly while I'm still alive.

My prediction is that if we don't....things are going to go downhill fast by that time anyway.

wulfy42:
Very little chance of life on either moon, but, water can be broken down into a breathable atmosphere for humans, if there is enough of it, which could make teraforming the moons a possibility. There are a few moons that we could do that to actually.

Of course, since we are not anywhere near setting up a permanent base even on OUR moon, let alone mars or any planets further out then that...it really doesn't matter much. Truth be told, in order for the human race to survive long enough to make any of that matter, we'll need cold fusion, and once we have cold fusion, space exploration is going to be WAAAY easier. So yeah, I'm not really worried about space much till we cover our bases on our own planet. I've heard some rumors we might have cold fusion the way things are going in the next 10-15 years, so possibly while I'm still alive.

My prediction is that if we don't....things are going to go downhill fast by that time anyway.

isnt cold fussion a myth? like something that doesnt fit any standard physics models or something like that?

NuclearKangaroo:

wulfy42:
Very little chance of life on either moon, but, water can be broken down into a breathable atmosphere for humans, if there is enough of it, which could make teraforming the moons a possibility. There are a few moons that we could do that to actually.

Of course, since we are not anywhere near setting up a permanent base even on OUR moon, let alone mars or any planets further out then that...it really doesn't matter much. Truth be told, in order for the human race to survive long enough to make any of that matter, we'll need cold fusion, and once we have cold fusion, space exploration is going to be WAAAY easier. So yeah, I'm not really worried about space much till we cover our bases on our own planet. I've heard some rumors we might have cold fusion the way things are going in the next 10-15 years, so possibly while I'm still alive.

My prediction is that if we don't....things are going to go downhill fast by that time anyway.

isnt cold fussion a myth? like something that doesnt fit any standard physics models or something like that?

It's not a myth, and honestly it may be our only long term hope. Some have even reported they have cracked it already, but from what I have read (in general) scientists think it'll be at least a decade before we actually do.

Here is a link to one supposed cold fusion setup....havn't followed up to see if this has actually been verified, but i'm thinking if it had, we would have heard about it already.

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/156393-cold-fusion-reactor-independently-verified-has-10000-times-the-energy-density-of-gas

wulfy42:

NuclearKangaroo:

wulfy42:
Very little chance of life on either moon, but, water can be broken down into a breathable atmosphere for humans, if there is enough of it, which could make teraforming the moons a possibility. There are a few moons that we could do that to actually.

Of course, since we are not anywhere near setting up a permanent base even on OUR moon, let alone mars or any planets further out then that...it really doesn't matter much. Truth be told, in order for the human race to survive long enough to make any of that matter, we'll need cold fusion, and once we have cold fusion, space exploration is going to be WAAAY easier. So yeah, I'm not really worried about space much till we cover our bases on our own planet. I've heard some rumors we might have cold fusion the way things are going in the next 10-15 years, so possibly while I'm still alive.

My prediction is that if we don't....things are going to go downhill fast by that time anyway.

isnt cold fussion a myth? like something that doesnt fit any standard physics models or something like that?

It's not a myth, and honestly it may be our only long term hope. Some have even reported they have cracked it already, but from what I have read (in general) scientists think it'll be at least a decade before we actually do.

Here is a link to one supposed cold fusion setup....havn't followed up to see if this has actually been verified, but i'm thinking if it had, we would have heard about it already.

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/156393-cold-fusion-reactor-independently-verified-has-10000-times-the-energy-density-of-gas

im just going by the wikipedia article

"Cold fusion is a hypothetical type of nuclear reaction that would occur at, or near, room temperature, compared with temperatures in the millions of degrees that are required for "hot" fusion. It was proposed to explain reports of anomalously high energy generation under certain specific laboratory conditions. The original experimental results which were touted as evidence for cold fusion were not replicated consistently and reliably, and there is no accepted theoretical model of cold fusion."

"By late 1989, most scientists considered cold fusion claims dead, and cold fusion subsequently gained a reputation as pathological science. In 1989, a review panel organized by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) found that the evidence for the discovery of a new nuclear process was not persuasive enough to start a special program, but was "sympathetic toward modest support" for experiments "within the present funding system." A second DOE review, convened in 2004 to look at new research, reached conclusions similar to the first. Support within the then-present funding system did not occur."

there are other, real technologies that can help mankind travel through space and generate power, such as ion engines and stellarators

wulfy42:
It's not a myth, and honestly it may be our only long term hope. Some have even reported they have cracked it already, but from what I have read (in general) scientists think it'll be at least a decade before we actually do.

Here is a link to one supposed cold fusion setup....havn't followed up to see if this has actually been verified, but i'm thinking if it had, we would have heard about it already.

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/156393-cold-fusion-reactor-independently-verified-has-10000-times-the-energy-density-of-gas

I went and looked up these experiments and there is nothing scientific about them. The device used was called an Energy catalyzer, a device that only one person, the inventor Andrea Rossi, knows how it works and only he has access to. Even in these "independent" tests, the testers only had direct control over some of the experimental data, none of which related to products or the reactants of the experiment and Rossi provided quite a bit of the experimental data himself. The issue of it not being subject to peer-review calls into the credibility immediately. What though kills the credibility though is the fact that previous tests being physically impossible (lack of gamma radiation, isotopes being completely stable, unrealistic amounts of copper as a product) and the fact that Rossi has in the past founded an energy company that claimed to turn waste into oil, which resulted in not a single drop of oil being produced and 40 million euros in environmental damage.

OT: Please, please find alien life. I'm not asking for anything big, just a single microbe, a single cell. Just something to prove that we aren't alone in this infinite expanse.

Umm an ocean the size of Lake superior? Did you read that out loud to yourself before committing that to to post? Because lake superior ain't that big hence they it call lake superior and not the superior sea or superior ocean.

Good news otherwise i guess if we ever get interested in space enough to go that far the moon could be used to siphon water for terraformed colonies on other worlds/moons.

Happiness Assassin:
OT: Please, please find alien life. I'm not asking for anything big, just a single microbe, a single cell. Just something to prove that we aren't alone in this infinite expanse.

Don't worry, it's out there. I'm pretty certain that Europa is our best bet if Mars doesn't pan out (there's liquid water below the surface, and quite possibly enough energy being transferred by Jupiter's tidal forces to keep it at a reasonable temperature, too). Honestly, I have at least some hope that we might find not just life but multi-cellular life. I'm not sure what the odds are on it, but it seems possible.

Other than the specific depths, I thought we knew all this already. Enceladus was already considered the top candidate for alien life within our solar system, with Europa a close second, Ganymede and Calisto as possible but less likely, and Titan as the wildcard(very cold, oceans of organic material, mainly liquid methane, with a methane cycle similar to earth's water cycle).

Now all that is needed is a bunch of Monoliths to turn Saturn into a small star.

"All these worlds are yours except Enceladus. Attempt no landings there."

Rhykker:
Saturn's moon Enceladus has entered the ring

BOOM BOOM!

Seriously, though, I'm not getting my hopes up. For life to have developed independently twice in the same system seems unlikely to me, but this isn't based on anything much.

immortalfrieza:

Kajin:
I for one welcome our new potential alien overlords.

I'm afraid our new potential alien overlords were eliminated by the robotic overlords they built, sorry. Projections also indicate the robotic overlords will likely be exterminated by the nano-robotic overlords they have currently built sometime in the near future.

and when that happens another race of robotic overlords will come to destroy nano-robotic overlords so that they won't build another race of super nano robotic overlords that will inevitably eliminate them.

Darks63:
Umm an ocean the size of Lake superior? Did you read that out loud to yourself before committing that to to post? Because lake superior ain't that big hence they it call lake superior and not the superior sea or superior ocean.

Go read the definition of ocean and you'll find out that it would be described differently depending on the size of the body it is found on.

Enceladus is very small. Therefore a body of water that would be considered a lake on Earth (although that would require it being fresh water which it is not, it would be a sea here) would be considered an ocean elsewhere. The key factor is the fraction of surface the body of water covers.

Keith K:

Darks63:
Umm an ocean the size of Lake superior? Did you read that out loud to yourself before committing that to to post? Because lake superior ain't that big hence they it call lake superior and not the superior sea or superior ocean.

Go read the definition of ocean and you'll find out that it would be described differently depending on the size of the body it is found on.

Enceladus is very small. Therefore a body of water that would be considered a lake on Earth (although that would require it being fresh water which it is not, it would be a sea here) would be considered an ocean elsewhere. The key factor is the fraction of surface the body of water covers.

Ahh you're right i didn't consider the size of the Enceladus vs Earth. Kneejerk posting ftl iguess.

thaluikhain:
Seriously, though, I'm not getting my hopes up. For life to have developed independently twice in the same system seems unlikely to me, but this isn't based on anything much.

In theory all you need for life to start is water, fatty acids, some monomers and changing water temperatures, such as convection currents around underwater volcanoes.

By in theory I mean it's been lab tested to occur, though when I say life here, I'm talking super basic.

Cerebrawl:

thaluikhain:
Seriously, though, I'm not getting my hopes up. For life to have developed independently twice in the same system seems unlikely to me, but this isn't based on anything much.

In theory all you need for life to start is water, fatty acids, some monomers and changing water temperatures, such as convection currents around underwater volcanoes.

By in theory I mean it's been lab tested to occur, though when I say life here, I'm talking super basic.

It would actually be best if we found a planet capable of creating supporting life but doesn't actually have life on it yet. The reason is simple, microbes that we have no actual defense whatsoever against. The only reason our immune systems are able to effectively fight off microbes on this planet is because we have spent millions of years fighting off the ancestors of the microbes we have now. Therefore, on a planet that already has life we'd have to live in extremely sterile environments and wear isolation suits when we weren't until we could artificially develop immunities or we'd start dying off in droves. The same would be true of microbes we bring to other planets that have life on it as well.

immortalfrieza:
It would actually be best if we found a planet capable of creating supporting life but doesn't actually have life on it yet. The reason is simple, microbes that we have no actual defense whatsoever against. The only reason our immune systems are able to effectively fight off microbes on this planet is because we have spent millions of years fighting off the ancestors of the microbes we have now. Therefore, on a planet that already has life we'd have to live in extremely sterile environments and wear isolation suits when we weren't until we could artificially develop immunities or we'd start dying off in droves. The same would be true of microbes we bring to other planets that have life on it as well.

The only reason microbes on our planet affect us is because they have evolved to, case in point, extremeophile bacteria from our own planet do nothing to us. Who is to say that microbes from another planet even could? Why would they have evolved mechanisms for breaching and infecting our cells when they've never encountered us? Just as we won't have encountered them and built up defenses specific to them, they won't have encountered us and built attacks for us. These also need to be quite specific.

Besides, I'm pretty sure a probe we'd send there would just have onboard analysis tools and wouldn't actually be returning to us physically, one way ticket.

In any case, a result either way gives us better data on the probability of life, as we'll have more than a single data-point of wether a planet capable of supporting life has had life evolve. A positive finding is of higher value than a negative, because we can't rule out that a negative just means we missed it even if it's there, while a positive is more conclusive.

 

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