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Cassini Finds an Atmosphere of water vapour on Saturn´s Moon Enceladus

 
Minbari
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03/19/2005 05:16 PM
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Cassini Finds an Atmosphere of water vapour on Saturn´s Moon Enceladus
Interesting discovery, unfortunatley the gravity is to weak to sustain an atmosphere. Though this being the case gives rise to a source that constantly replinishes the atmospher with the water vapours.

Also it has been discovered that Mars is still geologicaly active in that there is evidence of old glacial movment dukmping sheets of ice as it traversed to the tropics. Above this there has been signs of active volcanic movment which gives rise to a warm subsurface which is where we are going to find life.

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[link to www.space.com]

The Cassini spacecraft has revealed that Saturnīs icy moon Enceladus has a significant atmosphere.



The spacecraft unlocked the moon’s secret during recent flybys, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced Wednesday. Scientists, using Cassiniīs magnetometer instrument for their studies, said the source may be volcanism, geysers, or gases escaping from the surface or the interior.



When Cassini had its first encounter with Enceladus on Feb. 17 at an altitude of 725 miles (1,167 km), the magnetometer instrument saw a striking signature in the magnetic field. On March 9, Cassini approached to within 310 miles (500 km) of Enceladusī surface and obtained additional evidence.



The observations showed a bending of the magnetic field, with the magnetospheric plasma being slowed and deflected by the moon. In addition, magnetic field oscillations were observed. These are caused when electrically charged (or ionized) molecules interact with the magnetic field by spiraling around the field line. This interaction creates characteristic oscillations in the magnetic field at frequencies that can be used to identify the molecule. The observations from the Enceladus flybys are believed to be due to ionized water vapor.



"These new results from Cassini may be the first evidence of gases originating either from the surface or possibly from the interior of Enceladus," said Dr. Michele Dougherty, principal investigator for the Cassini magnetometer and professor at Imperial College in London. In 1981, NASAīs Voyager spacecraft flew by Enceladus at a distance of 56,000 miles (90,000 km) without detecting an atmosphere. Itīs possible detection was beyond Voyagerīs capabilities, or something may have changed since that flyby.



This is the first time since Cassini arrived in orbit around Saturn last summer that an atmosphere has been detected around a moon of Saturn, other than its largest moon, Titan. Enceladus is a relatively small moon. The amount of gravity it exerts is not enough to hold an atmosphere very long. Therefore, at Enceladus, a strong continuous source is required to maintain the atmosphere.



The need for such a strong source leads scientists to consider eruptions, such as volcanoes and geysers. If such eruptions are present, Enceladus would join two other such active moons, Io at Jupiter and Triton at Neptune. "Enceladus could be Saturnīs more benign counterpart to Jupiterīs dramatic Io," said Dr. Fritz Neubauer, co-investigator for the Cassini magnetometer, and a professor at the University of Cologne in Germany.

Since the Voyager flyby, scientists have suspected that this moon is geologically active and is the source of Saturnīs icy E ring. Enceladus is the most reflective object in the solar system, reflecting about 90 percent of the sunlight that hits it. If Enceladus does have ice volcanoes, the high reflectivity of the moonīs surface might result from continuous deposition of icy particles originating from the volcanoes.

Enceladusī diameter is about 310 miles (500 km), which would fit in the state of Arizona. Despite its small size, Enceladus exhibits one of the most interesting surfaces of all the icy satellites.

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Researchers have discovered evidence of recent glacier movements and volcanic eruptions on Mars, overturning the long-held opinion that itīs a cold, dead world. As recently as 350,000 years ago, glaciers moved from Marsī poles to its tropics, covering the planet in sheets of ice. And several of Marsī giant volcanoes were active as recently as 2 million years ago. The heat from these volcanoes could sustain microbial life in underground pools of liquid water.
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:15 AM
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Re: Cassini Finds an Atmosphere of water vapour on Saturn´s Moon Enceladus
Interesting
chorus
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:15 AM
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Re: Cassini Finds an Atmosphere of water vapour on Saturn´s Moon Enceladus
A conclusive extra-terresterial life discovery is just around the corner me thinks.
The Lord Jesus Christ  (OP)

12/08/2005 10:15 AM
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Re: Cassini Finds an Atmosphere of water vapour on Saturn´s Moon Enceladus
I showed everbody my "moon" down at JPL.
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:15 AM
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Re: Cassini Finds an Atmosphere of water vapour on Saturn´s Moon Enceladus
Why would you go and do something like that?





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