Humanoids are stupid. Laugh at them.

Friday, November 28, 2008

first mars, now saturn

WASHINGTON (AP) - Astronomers looking at the spectacular supersonic plumes of gas and dust shooting off one of Saturn's moons say there are strong hints of liquid water, a key building block of life.

Their research, appearing in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, adds to the growing push to explore further the moon Enceladus, as one of the solar system's most compelling places for potential life.

Using images from NASA's Cassini probe, astronomers had already figured that the mysterious plumes shooting from Enceladus' icy terrain contain water vapor. New calculations suggesting the gas and dustspew at speeds faster-than-sound make the case for liquid, said study lead author Candice Hansen of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in California. Her team calculated the plumes travel more than 1,360 mph.

Carolyn Porco, the head of the Cassini camera team and an astronomer who didn't take part in Hansen's research, said "the evidence in my mind is building on liquid water." That moon, one of 60 circling Saturn, "has become the go-to place" for exploration in the outer planets, she said.

Europa, a moon of Jupiter, may have a liquid ocean beneath its frozen surface. But Enceladus, thought responsible for producing one of Saturn's rings, is more accessible, Hansen said. "Enceladus is sort of helpfully spewing out its innards," she said.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home