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Thread: Hydrophobic molecules found on Enceladus

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    Hydrophobic molecules found on Enceladus

    Hydrophobic molecules are the basis for membranes for cells. Some simple forms of these have been found in the vents on the moon Enceladus. This might be the precursor for life or the by products of life. This could be a major break thru in looking for life off of Earth.
    https://www.sciencealert.com/complex...restrial-life/
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    It.s an amazing find, but where does it say 'hydrophobic ' molecules? I read mention of complex organics, which is big news by itself, especially in conjunction with Enceladus' warmish sea, but I missed where it specified that they were hydrophobic molecules.

  3. #3
    http://www.businessinsider.com/encel...lecules-2018-6
    Here is another article and it is saying the molecules are hydrophobic because they form bubbles on the surface of the water.
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  4. #4
    Sometimes you hear something on a podcast then find an article that backs most of it up and then they forgot some of the key info and then have to find an article to fill in the missing piece.
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    Oh well. At least they're not rabid.

    Grant Hutchison
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Oh well. At least they're not rabid.

    Grant Hutchison
    You just made me laugh thanks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    http://www.businessinsider.com/encel...lecules-2018-6
    Here is another article and it is saying the molecules are hydrophobic because they form bubbles on the surface of the water.
    That article doesn't say 'hydrophobic molecules' at all!
    It says:
    ... He added that the bubbles are hydrophobic, or water-repelling, which is why they form a film on top of the water as opposed to dissolving.
    .. and what 'bubble' isn't 'hydrophobic'?

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    Here is a link to the paper in Nature

    And the abstract
    Saturn’s moon Enceladus harbours a global water ocean1, which lies under an ice crust and above a rocky core2. Through warm cracks in the crust3 a cryo-volcanic plume ejects ice grains and vapour into space4,5,6,7 that contain materials originating from the ocean8,9. Hydrothermal activity is suspected to occur deep inside the porous core10,11,12, powered by tidal dissipation13. So far, only simple organic compounds with molecular masses mostly below 50 atomic mass units have been observed in plume material6,14,15. Here we report observations of emitted ice grains containing concentrated and complex macromolecular organic material with molecular masses above 200 atomic mass units. The data constrain the macromolecular structure of organics detected in the ice grains and suggest the presence of a thin organic-rich film on top of the oceanic water table, where organic nucleation cores generated by the bursting of bubbles allow the probing of Enceladus’ organic inventory in enhanced concentrations.
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  9. #9
    And to create bubbles you need something that repulsed by water, hydrophobic molecules. In cells you have a lipid attached to a phosphorus atom that makes the one layer and a similar molecule on another layer make phospholipid bilayer which makes the cell walls.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    And to create bubbles you need something that repulsed by water, hydrophobic molecules.
    The molecules don't necessarily have to be hydrophobic molecules. They can simply be rising (insoluble) gas bubbles.

    In fact, the favored scenario they pursue is ascending gas bubbles (hydrogen) transporting organic material into the water filled cracks (see: 'Extended Data Figure 12'). The organics ultimately concentrate in a thin layer on top of the water table, located inside the icy vents. When the gas bubbles burst, they form aerosols made of the insoluble organic material that later serve as efficient condensation cores for the production of an icy crust from water vapour, thereby forming the Cassini measured HMOC-type (High-Mass Organic Cations) particles.

    Also from the paper, (page 9/26 .. my underlines):
    Quote Originally Posted by Postberg etal
    Is a scenario of processing primordial organic materials in Enceladus’ core consistent with the chemical and structural features of compounds detected in the plume? Before proceeding, it is important to emphasize that it is still an open question whether we are seeing features that are representative of bulk organic materials in the subsurface. Processes that could fractionate organic compounds from their hypothesized source region to our instruments include expulsion from the core, (bio)degradation, hydrophobic phase separation in the ocean, plume outgassing and impacts during high-speed flybys. In light of these considerations, it seems prudent to focus on broad chemical characteristics...

  11. #11
    sorry, i was going by what was reported. Nut having such a large organic molecule is important find anyway.
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    It's getting incredible now. There could be huge caverns within the ice layer filled with atmosphere (albeit toxic for humans). The temperature could be quite reasonable at around the freezing point of water.

  13. #13
    It is getting closer and closer to Enceladus belongs to us do not land there.
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    One observation/conclusion from this study is just how difficult it is to infer biogenic origins by merely analysing onsite organic matter samples.

    The onsite Cassini Cosmic Dust Analyser (CDA) and the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) instruments have returned tantalising, but still highly perplexing results.

    One has to seriously question whether or not remote probes like Cassini, are actually capable of carrying the appropriate instrumentation to provide real answers about extant life on other bodies(?) Sure, more different types of analysis equipment may close the gaps, but the task complexity this also implies, escalates commensurately, and may well exceed the feasibility limits of the remote probe technique(?)

    Our expectations are that remote probes can detect life .. however, the evidence thus far, is that such answers won't come anywhere as easily as we seem to anticipate.

  15. #15
    So we need to send humans after all. The probes might narrow down the areas to look at but it will need a human to on the ground to make the decision.
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    I guess it almost entirely depends on just what's out there (if anything) ...

    .. I mean, if some creature bounds up and decides to lick a Curiosity-type rover's camera lens, then an onsite human, in that case, is probably instantly redundant!

  17. #17
    The problem with probes is that they only carry so many instruments and they have limits. Humans gave limits but they can be more adaptable.
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    Article from Chemical & Engineering News with some more details about the molecules identified.
    By adding in data from a second spectrometer, the group identified molecular fragments with masses below 200 atomic mass units. They report evidence of aliphatic unsaturated carbon chains; hydroxy and ethoxy functional groups; carbonyls; nitrogen-containing moieties; and aromatic rings adjacent to unsaturated carbons. Khawaja says the identity of the parent molecules of the fragments remains an open question. Some of the peaks related to aromatic rings are not consistent with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are common in interstellar space. Other possibilities include polymers of aromatic rings and aliphatic sections, or aromatic rings with cross-linking aliphatic chains.

    Based on the salt content of the ice analyzed alongside the organics, the researchers say the molecules would not be dissolved in the ocean. They instead propose that these molecules float in films on top of the ocean. Khawaja explains that bubbles from undersea vents could aerosolize organic compounds as they burst at the water’s surface. Ice grains can then nucleate around these molecules and eject into space. Similar processes happen in Earth’s ocean.
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  19. #19
    Cool, any organic molecules near a large ocean is good news.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    So we need to send humans after all.
    I doubt that. Instruments will likely get better faster than sending people will cost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    So we need to send humans after all.
    NO.
    NO.
    And in case you weren't paying attention, NO.

    You can't send humans without sending our microbioms along with us. The discovery of truly alien life is of incalculable value, not simply for science or curiosity or finding new friends, but for what it could teach us about how life itself may work. There can be vast and real application for what we learn, in all fields of science and technology. Keeping utter, full hermetic containment of humans on the surface of a planetary body is laughable. It could be harder to thoroughly accomplish than getting the people there in the first place. We only get one shot at seeing an unaltered alien biom for each planetary body, it would be a costly idea to destroy that for the sake of having a primate goo sack stick a flag in some alien dirt.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by JCoyote View Post
    NO.
    NO.
    And in case you weren't paying attention, NO.

    You can't send humans without sending our microbioms along with us. The discovery of truly alien life is of incalculable value, not simply for science or curiosity or finding new friends, but for what it could teach us about how life itself may work. There can be vast and real application for what we learn, in all fields of science and technology. Keeping utter, full hermetic containment of humans on the surface of a planetary body is laughable. It could be harder to thoroughly accomplish than getting the people there in the first place. We only get one shot at seeing an unaltered alien biom for each planetary body, it would be a costly idea to destroy that for the sake of having a primate goo sack stick a flag in some alien dirt.
    Even probes have microbes on them that is way Cassini was hurled into Saturn.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCoyote View Post
    NO.
    NO.
    And in case you weren't paying attention, NO.

    You can't send humans without sending our microbioms along with us. The discovery of truly alien life is of incalculable value, not simply for science or curiosity or finding new friends, but for what it could teach us about how life itself may work. There can be vast and real application for what we learn, in all fields of science and technology. Keeping utter, full hermetic containment of humans on the surface of a planetary body is laughable. It could be harder to thoroughly accomplish than getting the people there in the first place. We only get one shot at seeing an unaltered alien biom for each planetary body, it would be a costly idea to destroy that for the sake of having a primate goo sack stick a flag in some alien dirt.
    Sending our microbioms would also teach us more about how life works .. which would also be of the similar 'incalculable value' too, no?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    Sending our microbioms would also teach us more about how life works .. which would also be of the similar 'incalculable value' too, no?
    PS: ... and the return on investment needed to get them there, would at least build upon what we already know is there, rather than what we hope might be there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    PS: ... and the return on investment needed to get them there, would at least build upon what we already know is there, rather than what we hope might be there.
    Because you can wait and always do that LATER. Once done, you can't undo it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCoyote View Post
    Because you can wait and always do that LATER.
    For how long?
    Quote Originally Posted by JCoyote
    Once done, you can't undo it.
    ...only if there's something to undo in the first place .. (there may not be).

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    The fact they are talking about bubbles "rising to the surface" implies there is a liquid surface.

    So are they saying there is a gap between the ocean surface and the base of the ice layer? Filled with gas?

    How extensive could this be? Bearing in mind the surface gravity is only 0.0113g ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    For how long?
    Until we have a solid notion of the chemical processes in the environment that may be informational in processing or storage. Until then, there are plenty of other low probability of life rocks in the solar system to stick flags in.

    Contaminating your samples because you want to get up close and touch them is destructive, and the observational information lost is not recoverable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCoyote View Post
    ... Contaminating your samples because you want to get up close and touch them is destructive, and the observational information lost is not recoverable.
    How so? Why necessarily?
    And let's remember that such 'observational information' is hypothetical to start with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kzb View Post
    The fact they are talking about bubbles "rising to the surface" implies there is a liquid surface.

    So are they saying there is a gap between the ocean surface and the base of the ice layer? Filled with gas?

    How extensive could this be? Bearing in mind the surface gravity is only 0.0113g ?
    I did have pdf access to the document at one stage, but it was unsavable and only very short-lived, (which was rather odd), so I did read through it at the time. I can't recall them discussing this gap though .. I think it was all part of the notion of suspected deeper hydrothermal venting activity on the ocean floor(?)
    (Although I can't verify that now).

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