NASA Sending Robot to Saturn's Moon to Search for Alien Life

Friday, 01 December 2017 - 1:37PM
Space
Alien Life
Friday, 01 December 2017 - 1:37PM
NASA Sending Robot to Saturn's Moon to Search for Alien Life
Image credit: NASA
NASA has announced it's working on a robotic specialized instrument to send to Saturn's moon Enceladus to search for alien life.
 
Enceladus is one of the 53 moons that orbit the "Ringed Planet," and compared to its Saturnian sibling Titan (the second-largest moon in our solar system, and the only moon with clouds and a thick atmosphere) it's no giant, with a mere mean radius of only 157 miles.

On the other hand, Enceladus has captured the attention of science with its icy crust, under which may lie an ocean capable of harboring life.



Researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center are among those who share this interest, and as NASA is reporting, the team has received support to work on tech to create a spacecraft that can sniff (so to speak) the vapors being discharged by Enceladus and—whether purposely or coincidentally—have given it a name whose acronym should resonate across social media hard.
 
The NASA team is working on the Submillimeter Enceladus Life Fundamentals Instrument (yes, "SELFI"), a remote instrument that is to study the composition of whatever material Enceladus is releasing, including water vapor and ice particles.

The hope is that within the plumes may be traces of whatever is below the moon's surface, and by studying the jetsam, scientists can work out the mix of the Enceladian ocean and figure out if it's the life-friendly soup they hope it might be.
 
"Submillimeter wavelengths, which are in the range of very high-frequency radio, give us a way to measure the quantity of many different kinds of molecules in a cold gas. We can scan through all the plumes to see what's coming out from Enceladus,NASA researcher and SELFI Principal Investigator Dr. Gordon Chin said.

"Water vapor and other molecules can reveal some of the ocean's chemistry and guide a spacecraft onto the best path to fly through the plumes to make other measurements directly."
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NASA
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Alien Life
NASA Sending Robot to Saturn's Moon to Search for Alien Life
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