posted on Aug, 19 2010 @ 08:32 AM
I personally think Enceladus is one of the most exciting moons out there when talking about potential life -- at least as exciting as Jupiter's moon
Europa , and perhaps even MORE exciting than Europa.
Originally posted by Happyfeet
had we probed for atmosphere?
Yes, we have.
Enceladus is known for its geysers that shoot water-ice and other materials out into space from beneath it's surface. These geysers probably help in
creating an atmosphere -- and there is
a very thin and tenuous atmosphere (concentrated near the region of the geysers) made mostly of
water vapor with a little nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and maybe ammonia...
HOWEVER -- the most exciting thing about Enceladus is not the surface or the atmosphere, but the possibility of a liquid water ocean
beneath the surface (just like Jupiter's moon Europa). The geysers are a definite sign of at least some water beneath the surface -- and
other data indicates a possible salt-water ocean:
Salt Finding From NASA's Cassini Hints at Ocean Within Saturn Moon
The reason I personally think Enceladus is MORE exciting than Europa is that organic materials were found by the Cassini spacecraft as it swooped down
into the path of the geysers and "tasted" (i.e., analyzed) the materials contained in those geysers -- and organic materials were found. Europa is
believed to have organic materials in its oceans, but that has not been confirmed. It has been confirmed in the water-ice from Enceladus.
[disclaimer: "Organic material" does NOT always mean life. Organic materials can exist where there is no life -- HOWEVER, these are the
building blocks of life and could be a sign of life.]
Cassini Tastes Organic Material at Saturn's Geyser Moon
Organic Chemicals Found in a Geyser of Saturn's Moon Enceladus
[edit on 8/19/2010 by Soylent Green Is People]