View Full Version : Cassini Sniffs Organic Chemicals Leaking into Space from Saturn Moon, Enceladus

2008-Mar-27, 04:00 AM
During a flyby of the small moon on March 12th, the Cassini probe detected significant amounts of organic chemicals as it flew through powerful geyser-like jets of ice blasting into space. This active moon appears to*be generating*organic chemicals much like the substances found in comets. As Cassini bravely travelled through the plume at a speed [...]

More... (http://www.universetoday.com/2008/03/26/cassini-sniffs-organic-chemicals-leaking-into-space-from-saturn-moon-enceladus/)

2008-Mar-27, 03:22 PM
More on Enceladus:


found organic matter

The discovery excited mission team members, who say it's a marker for further research into whether the icy satellite Enceladus has such an environment.

The chemical analysis by Cassini revealed that Enceladus' interior was similar to that of a comet.

A friend (elsewhere) had proposed that perhaps a comet smacked into Enceladus ages ago.

While the jet plumes were mostly water vapor, the probe found traces of methane and simple organic compounds

"We clearly have the organics and are closing in on the question of liquid water in the interior"

Detailed heat maps of the lunar surface revealed the south pole is warmer than previously thought. Temperature measurements show the region is at least minus 135 degrees Fahrenheit — 63 degrees hotter than previously known.

2008-Mar-28, 03:26 AM
Three points of interest:

1) They have high molecular weights, but it does not sound to me like the evidence pinpoints organics for the higher weights - we might learn more on subsequent passes when the 'dust catcher' is working.

2) What has become clear is that there is no evidence of ammonia, which was an important part of the earlier 'underground ocean hypothesis'

3) The temperature is now constrained to be AT LEAST -135F; which reduces the need for ammonia; but also makes modeling a source of all the thermal energy even more difficult. This is a great part of the puzzle!