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Old 12th April 2017, 01:57 PM
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Default NASA on "Ocean worlds"

Can't wait:

Nasa to hold major press conference on 'ocean worlds' in our solar system
Nasa to hold major press conference on 'ocean worlds' in our solar system


Quote:
Nasa will hold a major press conference on ocean worlds in our own solar system, it has said.

The agency will reveal results that will inform the “broader search for life beyond Earth” at the mysterious event.

They will also affect plans for “future ocean world exploration”, Nasa said.

The US space agency tends to hold mysterious events when it has significant announcements to make to the public.

...

The event will be livestreamed at 7pm UK time on Thursday* ...
* = Friday, 2:00am AEST.
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Old 13th April 2017, 08:06 PM
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Default Re: NASA on "Ocean worlds"

This is very exciting. I hope they choose to explore on of the moons such as Europa, Ganymede, and Enceladus, which are supposed to have oceans under ice.
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Old 14th April 2017, 10:46 AM
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Default Re: NASA on "Ocean worlds"

Layperson's summary, from the New York Times:

Plumes From Saturn’s Moon Enceladus Hint That It Could Support Life

Quote:
...

Cassini’s findings also show that levels of carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane measured in the Enceladus plume were out of equilibrium, an imbalance that could provide an energy source that organisms could tap into for food, according to a paper published Thursday in the journal Science.



“It indicates there is chemical potential to support microbial systems,” said J. Hunter Waite Jr., program director for the space science and engineering division at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio and lead author of the Science paper.

In a separate paper published Thursday in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, another team of researchers, using the Hubble Space Telescope, once again spotted what appears to be a similar plume rising from Europa, one of Jupiter’s big moons that also possesses an ocean beneath an icy exterior.

Cassini had earlier found that there are seas of methane on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, a discovery that has inspired some scientists to suggest sending a boat there.

At a mere 310 miles wide, Enceladus was considered too small to be geologically interesting; scientists suspected that its interior had frozen solid long ago. But 11 years ago, Cassini spotted plumes rising from the south pole region, one of the biggest, most surprising discoveries of the mission.

The tidal forces of Saturn pulling and squeezing Enceladus appear to generate enough heat to melt the ice. From additional Cassini observations, scientists concluded that not only is there a pool of water near the south pole of Enceladus to generate the plumes, but a global ocean that lies beneath the moon’s ice.



After considering a variety of ways that could continually generate hydrogen, the scientists concluded that hydrothermal reactions offered the most likely explanation for producing that much of the gas. Each water molecule consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Geophysical models indicated that as hot water flows past the rocks, minerals in the rocks were grabbing the oxygen atoms and releasing hydrogen, the scientists reported.

There appeared to be enough energy to support microbes. “This is the first time we’ve been able to make a calorie count of an alien ocean,” Dr. Glein said. Asked what that calorie count was, Dr. Glein said the energy available was the caloric equivalent of 300 pizzas per hour.

The Washington Post's report -

NASA finds ingredients for life spewing out of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus

Here is the 'Science' paper referred to by those links -

Cassini finds molecular hydrogen in the Enceladus plume: Evidence for hydrothermal processes

Here is the 'Astrophysical Journal Letters' paper referred to by the NYT:

Active Cryovolcanism on Europa?

Last but by no means least, here is NASA's take on it all:

NASA Missions Provide New Insights into 'Ocean Worlds' in Our Solar System

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