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MrClean
2006-Mar-09, 04:04 PM
What's happening? Specs on Drudge are that they've found life somewhere else?

ToSeek
2006-Mar-09, 04:23 PM
From NASAWatch (http://www.nasawatch.com/archives/2006/03/will_there_be_a.html):


This announcement is in reference to a paper that will appear in Science magazine - and that magazine has it under embargo. I have not seen any of these embargoed press releases but from what I have pieced together the references to "life relatively close to the earth" may be a bit of a stretch to say the least. This announcement is a follow-on to previous announcements about discoveries on a moon in the Saturnian system - and the ramifications for life cannot be totally ignored - but that claim is not the thrust of the discovery.

antoniseb
2006-Mar-09, 04:46 PM
Liquid water probably inside Enceladus.

MrClean
2006-Mar-09, 04:49 PM
So it's 'Mars Rock II' where we have the initial claim of 'We've found proof of ancient life' and then it's discounted, contested, re-claimed and to last accounts both parties are in their seperate corners sulking.

So there MAY be liquid water on Enceladus, but that doesn't mean there's life, just the possibility of it.

Contact me when you've got something squigling under a microscope or in a camera lens.

phunk
2006-Mar-09, 04:53 PM
So it's 'Mars Rock II' where we have the initial claim of 'We've found proof of ancient life' and then it's discounted, contested, re-claimed and to last accounts both parties are in their seperate corners sulking.


Don't think that's a fair assessment, nobody has claimed to find life in this case. From what I see they've just found more proof of conditions that may favor life, and that's all they are/were announcing.

phunk
2006-Mar-09, 04:54 PM
It is a case of bad reporting from drudge and that news station though, making announcements before they even know what they are about, just so they can say 'you heard it here first'.

MrClean
2006-Mar-09, 05:17 PM
Yes, and bad phraseology from me. Didn't mean NASA, meant the reporting.

Kullat Nunu
2006-Mar-09, 06:34 PM
Space.com article (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060309_cassini_water.html)

01101001
2006-Mar-09, 06:48 PM
BA Blog: A “huge” NASA announcement today? (http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2006/03/09/a-huge-nasa-announcement-today)

By the way, I got through (one time; it's server maintenance now, no doubt a result of the heavy traffic) to the Orlando Channel 13 site (http://cfnews13.com/StoryHeadline.aspx?id=13873) about a half-hour ago, and their report of the upcoming news included phrasing that the initial reports (i.e. probably whatever they said that hinted at life) may have been in error.

01101001
2006-Mar-09, 07:06 PM
NASA: Cassini Mission News: NASA's Cassini Discovers Potential Liquid Water on Enceladus (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/media/cassini-20060309.html)


NASA's Cassini spacecraft may have found evidence of liquid water reservoirs that erupt in Yellowstone-like geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus. The rare occurrence of liquid water so near the surface raises many new questions about the mysterious moon.

"We realize that this is a radical conclusion -- that we may have evidence for liquid water within a body so small and so cold," said Dr. Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. "However, if we are right, we have significantly broadened the diversity of solar system environments where we might possibly have conditions suitable for living organisms."

High-resolution Cassini images show icy jets and towering plumes ejecting large quantities of particles at high speed. Scientists examined several models to explain the process. They ruled out the idea that the particles are produced by or blown off the moon's surface by vapor created when warm water ice converts to a gas. Instead, scientists have found evidence for a much more exciting possibility -- the jets might be erupting from near-surface pockets of liquid water above 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), like cold versions of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone.

baric
2006-Mar-09, 07:07 PM
This is great news! Maybe a big announcement about liquid water will rejuvenate science missions like the Europa diver.

Superluminal
2006-Mar-09, 07:49 PM
Actually, I thought this was old news. NASA posted pictures of out gassing from Enceladus several months ago. But, I'm into this sort of thing. The average person has never heard of Cassini much less Enceladus.

NASA may have been trying to avoid doing instant science when they posted the first pictures. But whenever the word life is used in a NASA release, things tend to get over blown.

01101001
2006-Mar-09, 09:19 PM
Actually, I thought this was old news. NASA posted pictures of out gassing from Enceladus several months ago.
The difference now is evidence of liquid water as the source. Previously one conjecture was that the ice plumes came from water vapor.


Scientists examined several models to explain the process. They ruled out the idea that the particles are produced by or blown off the moon's surface by vapor created when warm water ice converts to a gas. Instead, scientists have found evidence for a much more exciting possibility -- the jets might be erupting from near-surface pockets of liquid water above 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), like cold versions of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone.
It doesn't say how they ruled out water vapor, but that's no doubt in the Science article.

publiusr
2006-Mar-09, 09:30 PM
With all the screaming you'd think they found RAMA.

01101001
2006-Mar-09, 09:55 PM
Well, a dose of skepticism is always in order for extraordinary claims, even when first seen, or just hinted at, in the media.

01101001
2006-Mar-09, 10:33 PM
The Planetary Society Weblog: Possible liquid water on Enceladus (http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00000482/)


There's been a lot of buzz on the Internet this morning with all kinds of crazy claims about NASA discovering life or something, which are not true. What is true just came out in a press release from JPL titled "NASA discovers potential liquid water on Enceladus." There is not a lot of detail in the release that sounds much different from previous news about the active geysers that have been seen on Enceladus with many of Cassini's instruments. However, the release is happening today because today's issue of Science magazine, which should be out in an hour or so, will contain many special reports on Enceladus, the first peer-reviewed publications to appear since the Enceladus-is-active discovery was clinched in July, and I'm sure there will be lots of new and exciting things to read there.

CICLOPS, Cassini Imaging: Captain's Log, Carolyn Porco (http://ciclops.org/index.php)


Our detailed analyses of these images have led us to a remarkable conclusion, documented in a paper to be published in the journal SCIENCE tomorrow, that the jets are erupting from pockets of liquid water, possibly as close to the surface as ten meters ... a surprising circumstance for a body so small and cold. Other Cassini instruments have found that the fractures on the surface and the plume itself contain simple organic materials, and that there is more heat on average emerging from the south polar terrain, per square meter, than from the Earth.
[...]
A great deal more analysis and further exploration with Cassini must ensue before this implication becomes anything more than a suggestion. But at the moment, the prospects are staggering. Enceladus may have just taken center stage as the body in our solar system, outside the Earth, having the most easily accessible bodies of organic-rich water and, hence, significant biological potential.

ToSeek
2006-Mar-09, 11:22 PM
Thread moved from Q&A to Space Exploration.

The Incredible Bloke
2006-Mar-10, 12:56 AM
This comes right on the heels of the thread "Media Sensationlizes Science" in another part of the forum.:silenced:

George
2006-Mar-10, 02:15 AM
Any report of ammonia yet? It has been predicted that eruptions might happen on this icy moon due to its resonance, creating a slightly eccentric orbit which generates internal heat from tidal action. Aqueous ammonia doesn't freeze unitl 176K, so a viscous liquid state is deemed possible, if not likely.

Jerry
2006-Mar-10, 07:05 AM
Any report of ammonia yet? It has been predicted that eruptions might happen on this icy moon due to its resonance, creating a slightly eccentric orbit which generates internal heat from tidal action. Aqueous ammonia doesn't freeze unitl 176K, so a viscous liquid state is deemed possible, if not likely.
Actually it is very BIG news, because they are reporting an upper limit of less than 0.5% ammonia - meaning, actually stating the temperature of the water is at least 273k if not warmer, and further, the measured surface temperature near the southern pole of Enceladus is warmer than the average surface temperature of the earth. The implication is that this is the first place we have found where all of the conditions for life are met, outside our own planet.

It also means there is a source of heat that is virtually impossible to model within 'known' constraints - the 'known' mass, orbit, gravitational stress and inferred composition of Enceladus.

Nicolas
2006-Mar-10, 08:25 AM
If the heat source would be heavily radioactive, is it likely that some lifeform not caring about it would have evolved there? Or a lifeform with rather limited lifespan?

Well, at the moment I'm not hoping for life (I am, but you know what I mean :)). But if the idea of water at earth temperatures is correct, that's amazing news. I hope they can find good evidence for that.

Wolf-S
2006-Mar-10, 11:44 AM
I'm looking forward to the next close flyby. The next distance is confusing though, some sources say it's 350 km, and it's 100 km on wikipedia.

V-GER
2006-Mar-10, 12:57 PM
From
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/cassini-20060309.html

"What's different here is that pockets of liquid water may be no more than tens of meters below the surface."

and from
http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Enceladus

"Because Enceladus reflects so much sunlight, the surface temperature is only -201 C (-330 F)."

This means a radical temperature change in a small area like with the black smokers on earth's ocean floor.

Darrrius
2006-Mar-10, 02:43 PM
The big question in my mind is how long has water been there. Has it been there for billions of years or is it a fairly recent thing? I think the development of subsurface ocean exploratory missions to the icy moons is now more important than ever. The prospect of water above 0 degrees C is extremley exciting.

George
2006-Mar-10, 03:38 PM
Actually it is very BIG news, because they are reporting an upper limit of less than 0.5% ammonia - meaning, actually stating the temperature of the water is at least 273k if not warmer, and further, the measured surface temperature near the southern pole of Enceladus is warmer than the average surface temperature of the earth.
Thanks, I did not see the 0.5% ammonia level. That would explain, I suppose, the 273K temp. Are there any detail IR maps showing hotspots yet?

mantiss
2006-Mar-10, 03:42 PM
If the heat source would be heavily radioactive, is it likely that some lifeform not caring about it would have evolved there? Or a lifeform with rather limited lifespan?

Some stuff is really resilient to radioactivity like D.Radiodurans which can sustain elevated and sustained radioactive exposure, while being able to repair the damage to it's DNA.

However the possibility that the pockets of water are only transient is a challenge. Freezing here, thawing there, etc. It's an intriguing possibility however, all the best if they are NOT kilometers deep in the crust is excellent news. Where's the Enceladus sub project now! :p

mantiss
2006-Mar-10, 03:43 PM
Are there any detail IR maps showing hotspots yet?

There are some (http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=2028), but nothing too detailed so far.

George
2006-Mar-10, 05:07 PM
There are some (http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=2028), but nothing too detailed so far.
Nice map from the July flyby.

FWIW, at freezing, liquid water has 1/4 the thermal conductivity as ice (at 1 atm., anyway). Would this be an important factor to augment thermal build-up generated from the tidal heating and radioactivity?

Kullat Nunu
2006-Mar-10, 05:49 PM
I'm looking forward to the next close flyby. The next distance is confusing though, some sources say it's 350 km, and it's 100 km on wikipedia.

Actually it is 25 km (http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=2306&view=findpost&p=44822)! :eek:

PS. The values you mentioned probably mean the same altitude (distance from the center of Enceladus and distance from its surface).

George
2006-Mar-10, 10:36 PM
Actually it is 25 km (http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=2306&view=findpost&p=44822)!
Huh? It looks like a misquote. :think:

suntrack2
2006-Mar-11, 04:33 PM
means there is a clear cut possibility about life on encledus, since water is there ! or if it is in the core then what sort of life forms can be found there ?

hal5000
2006-Mar-12, 02:05 AM
Enceladus must be so similar to Triton....