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Topic: Enceladus

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft infrared images reveal Fresh Ice on Saturn’s moon Enceladus

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New composite images made from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft are the most detailed global infrared views ever produced of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. And data used to build those images provides strong evidence that the northern hemisphere of the moon has been resurfaced with ice from its interior.

Cassini’s Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) collected light reflected off Saturn, its rings and its ten major icy moons – light that is visible to humans as well as infrared light. VIMS then separated the light into its various wavelengths, information that tells scientists more about the makeup of the material reflecting it.

In these detailed infrared images of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus, reddish areas indicate fresh ice that has been deposited on the surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/LPG/CNRS/University of Nantes/Space Science Institute)

In these detailed infrared images of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, reddish areas indicate fresh ice that has been deposited on the surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/LPG/CNRS/University of Nantes/Space Science Institute)

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NASA says future robots may use Steam Power to hop around Icy Worlds

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says steam locomotion may sound like an antiquated way to get around, but it might be getting a science fiction makeover as we expand our reach into the solar system.

A novel robotic concept being investigated at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California would use steam propulsion to hop across the sort of icy terrains found on Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Both are thought to host vast subsurface oceans of salty water under a thick ice crust.

In this artist's concept, a SPARROW robot uses steam propulsion to hop away from its lander home base to explore an icy moon's surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In this artist’s concept, a SPARROW robot uses steam propulsion to hop away from its lander home base to explore an icy moon’s surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA proposes Mission to travel to Neptune’s Moon Triton

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Neptune’s strange moon Triton three decades ago, it wrote a planetary science cliffhanger.

Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft ever to have flown past Neptune, and it left a lot of unanswered questions. The views were as stunning as they were puzzling, revealing massive, dark plumes of icy material spraying out from Triton‘s surface. But how? Images showed that the icy landscape was young and had been resurfaced over and over with fresh material. But what material, and from where?

This global color mosaic of Neptune's moon Triton was taken in 1989 by Voyager 2 during its flyby of the Neptune system. (NASA/JPL/USGS)

This global color mosaic of Neptune’s moon Triton was taken in 1989 by Voyager 2 during its flyby of the Neptune system. (NASA/JPL/USGS)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft data shows Saturn’s Moon Titan Drifting Away Faster Than Previously Thought

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The new research by scientists at NASA and the Italian Space Agency has implications for the entire Saturn system as well as other planets and moons.

Just as our own Moon floats away from Earth a tiny bit more each year, other moons are doing the same with their host planets. As a moon orbits, its gravity pulls on the planet, causing a temporary bulge in the planet as it passes.

Over time, the energy created by the bulging and subsiding transfers from the planet to the moon, nudging it farther and farther out. Our Moon drifts 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) from Earth each year.

Larger than the planet Mercury, huge moon Titan is seen here as it orbits Saturn. Below Titan are the shadows cast by Saturn's rings. This natural color view was created by combining six images captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on May 6, 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Larger than the planet Mercury, huge moon Titan is seen here as it orbits Saturn. Below Titan are the shadows cast by Saturn’s rings. This natural color view was created by combining six images captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on May 6, 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA Scientists simulating Ocean Vents find evidence these features could have start Life

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Where did life first form on Earth? Some scientists think it could have been around hydrothermal vents that may have existed at the bottom of the ocean 4.5 billion years ago.

In a new paper in the journal Astrobiology, NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory describe how they mimicked possible ancient undersea environments with a complex experimental setup.

They showed that under extreme pressure, fluid from these ancient seafloor cracks mixed with ocean water could have reacted with minerals from the hydrothermal vents to produce organic molecules – the building blocks that compose nearly all life on Earth.

A seafloor vent called a "white smoker" spews mineral-rich water into the ocean and serves as an energy hub for living creatures. Some scientists think life on Earth may have begun around similar vents on the ocean floor billions of years ago. (NOAA/C. German (WHOI))

A seafloor vent called a “white smoker” spews mineral-rich water into the ocean and serves as an energy hub for living creatures. Some scientists think life on Earth may have begun around similar vents on the ocean floor billions of years ago. (NOAA/C. German (WHOI))

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data may hold answers to why Saturn is so Hot

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says that the upper layers in the atmospheres of gas giants – Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune – are hot, just like Earth’s. But unlike Earth, the Sun is too far from these outer planets to account for the high temperatures. Their heat source has been one of the great mysteries of planetary science.

New analysis of data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft finds a viable explanation for what’s keeping the upper layers of Saturn, and possibly the other gas giants, so hot: auroras at the planet’s north and south poles.

This false-color composite image shows auroras (depicted in green) above the cloud tops of Saturn's south pole. The 65 observations used here were captured by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer on Nov. 1, 2008. (NASA/JPL/ASI/University of Arizona/University of Leicester)

This false-color composite image shows auroras (depicted in green) above the cloud tops of Saturn’s south pole. The 65 observations used here were captured by Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer on Nov. 1, 2008. (NASA/JPL/ASI/University of Arizona/University of Leicester)

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NASA’s BRUIE Robotic Submersible tested under Sea Ice

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s little robotic explorer will be rolling into Antarctica this month to perform a gymnastic feat – driving upside down under sea ice.

BRUIE, or the Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration, is being developed for underwater exploration in extraterrestrial, icy waters by engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. It will spend the next month testing its endurance at Australia’s Casey research station in Antarctica, in preparation for a mission that could one day search for life in ocean worlds beyond Earth.  

An underwater rover called BRUIE is being tested in Antarctica to look for life under the ice. Developed by engineers at NASA-JPL, the robotic submersible could one day explore ice-covered oceans on moons like Europa and Enceladus. BRUIE is pictured here in an arctic lake near Barrow, Alaska in 2015. (NASA)

An underwater rover called BRUIE is being tested in Antarctica to look for life under the ice. Developed by engineers at NASA-JPL, the robotic submersible could one day explore ice-covered oceans on moons like Europa and Enceladus. BRUIE is pictured here in an arctic lake near Barrow, Alaska in 2015. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cassini mission data reveals New Organic Compounds in Enceladus Ice Grains

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New kinds of organic compounds, the ingredients of amino acids, have been detected in the plumes bursting from Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The findings are the result of the ongoing deep dive into data from NASA’s Cassini mission.

Powerful hydrothermal vents eject material from Enceladus’ core, which mixes with water from the moon’s massive subsurface ocean before it is released into space as water vapor and ice grains. The newly discovered molecules, condensed onto the ice grains, were determined to be nitrogen- and oxygen-bearing compounds.

In this image captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in 2007, the plumes of Enceladus are clearly visible. The moon is nearly in front of the Sun from Cassini's viewpoint. (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

In this image captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in 2007, the plumes of Enceladus are clearly visible. The moon is nearly in front of the Sun from Cassini’s viewpoint. (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

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NASA designing Climbing Technology for next generation Robots

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA -NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers in Pasadena, California, have designed a four-limbed robot named LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) can scale rock walls, gripping with hundreds of tiny fishhooks in each of its 16 fingers and using artificial intelligence (AI) to find its way around obstacles.

In its last field test in Death Valley, California, in early 2019, LEMUR chose a route up a cliff while scanning the rock for ancient fossils from the sea that once filled the area.

The climbing robot LEMUR rests after scaling a cliff in Death Valley, California. The robot uses special gripping technology that has helped lead to a series of new, off-roading robots that can explore other worlds. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The climbing robot LEMUR rests after scaling a cliff in Death Valley, California. The robot uses special gripping technology that has helped lead to a series of new, off-roading robots that can explore other worlds. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Scientist may have discovered way to detect Life Friendly Climates on Other Worlds

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says scientists may have found a way to tell if alien worlds have a climate that is suitable for life by analyzing the light from these worlds for special signatures that are characteristic of a life-friendly environment.

This technique could reveal the inner edge of a star’s habitable zone, the region around a star where liquid water could exist on the surface of a rocky planet.

“Habitable planets by definition have water on their surfaces,” said Eric Wolf of the University of Colorado, Boulder. “However, water can come in the forms of ocean, ice, snow, vapor, or cloud. Each of these forms of water have very different effects on climate. ”

Artist rendering of a red dwarf or M star, with three exoplanets orbiting. About 75 percent of all stars in the sky are the cooler, smaller red dwarfs. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist rendering of a red dwarf or M star, with three exoplanets orbiting. About 75 percent of all stars in the sky are the cooler, smaller red dwarfs. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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