Originally posted by yeti101
freightrain thats right , its europa. Im very interested to see if they confirm a subsurface ocean, how big it is and how thick the ice sheet
And don't forget Saturn's Moon Enceladus
that may also have liquid water (possibly oceans of it) under its frozen surface. The Cassini probe
flew through a water-ice geyser emanating from Enceladus last week in an attempt to analyze that water, looking for, among other things, organic
molecules -- i.e. carbon-containing molecules (NOTE: Organic molecules DO NOT
always = life).
Cassini's instruments did not work correctly to be able to analyze the water ice, but it will be flying through that geyser again later this year
(October). Hopefully the instruments will be working for that fly-through.
...as for Mars, NASA has the Phoenix Lander (not a rover) getting there this May, as mentioned in another post above. Phoenix will land near the
North Polar Ice Cap, hopefully at the ice/soil transition, hoping to find soil mixed with water ice -- or even liquid water under the surface.
Pheonix will be able to dig in the icy soil and analyze that soil.
The next mission after that is the "Mars Science Laboratory" which is a rover that can collect soil and rock samples for analysis. That gets to
Mars in 2010. Also, during NASA's budget hearings with the U.S. House of Representatives last week, they discussed possible funding for a "Mars
Sample Return Mission" in which a probe will bring a sample of Martian soil back to Earth for detailed analysis. However, there is no timetable yet
for this mission.
Finding signs of life on Mars -- even ancient long-dead "life" -- that developed independantly of Earth life would be one of the greatest
developments in human history. Finding "living" life isn't the most important thing. Discovering that life independantly formed on two
neighboring planets in the same solar system, even if one of those planets is now "dead", would mean that life is almost certainly abundant
throughout the universe, and even in our own galaxy -- and that's a big discovery (although I already think life is abundant in the galaxy and
However, we may find that life on Mars closely resembles life on earth, meaning that life did not independantly arise on Mars and Earth, but one
"seeded" the other with life, possibly from a blown-off piece of one planet that traveled to the other; or that both planets were seeded by the same
kind life that was living on icy comets. Discovering that all life in the solar system is closely related to each other and all came from a common
source could indicate that life in the universe is a rare thing indeed.
[edit on 3/19/2008 by Soylent Green Is People]