SciTechBlog   « Back to Blog Main
March 27, 2008

Carbonated water, with essence of natural gas...

Posted: 08:45 AM ET

That's what Cassini spacecraft scientists had to say about what's in those cold water geysers shooting off from the pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus (that's pronounced "in-SELL-uh-dus").

Jet Blue. Source: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The Cassini team was stunned to discover the geysers two years ago when the probe made its first flyby of the tiny moon. Then on March 12th, they got another chance to point their science instruments at the billowing plume during another close approach, passing just 120 miles from the surface. This time the optical cameras took a back seat to a suite of spectrographs designed to "taste and smell" what chemicals are present.

The team has just announced the initial science findings. It turns out the jets are mostly water vapor, with some ice crystals mixed in. Also present are methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and an abundance of both simple and complex organic chemicals.

Another instrument on board measured the temperatures at the fissures where the geysers erupt from the surface. Turns out it gets up to a hot and balmy -130 degrees Fahrenheit there. OK, that's pretty cold. But it is significantly warmer than the -300 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures elsewhere on that moon. The researchers say some sort of heat source deep within the planet must be at work, and that underground pockets of liquid water very likely exist - maybe even relatively close to the surface.

So what does it all mean? The moon has water, organic compounds, and a heat source...and that makes it a prime hunting ground for astrobiologists (scientists who look for signs of extraterrestrial life). They don't know at this point if that underground liquid water exists, and they certainly don't know if any sort of microbial life form may be living there. But you can bet they're excited about it!

Cassini will flyby Enceladus again in August.

–Kate Tobin, Senior Producer, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: Astrobiology • Enceladus • NASA • Saturn • Space

Share this on:
WS   March 28th, 2008 1:21 am ET

I know their is an obsession with Mars, but there are so many moons in our solar system with better prospects for simple life...

Donald   March 28th, 2008 1:32 am ET

This is a close enough location we may actually be able to study hands on. This is exciting.

Mr. Spock   March 28th, 2008 3:34 am ET

This moon is the biggest mystery in the Solar System, even more so than Titan! A small 300 mile wide ice-ball orbiting Saturn, which possibly has life lurking underneath its surface. I am happy that we will continue studying this incredible moon and unlock more of its secrets. I still want to know more about the HEXAGON on Saturn's North Pole, what is creating that shape and sustaining it for so long?

Donald   April 1st, 2008 12:30 am ET

A Hexagon on Saturn? Really. Where can I learn more about that? Sounds like some crystalization has taken place.

Mr. Spock   April 2nd, 2008 1:47 am ET

Yep, Don, the Hexagon, it's really spooky, weird stuff. Still no good explanation for it. The Universe show on History channel features it. It is also easily searchable on Youtube and Wikipedia. Just search Saturn Hexagon.

Run Your Car On Water   August 3rd, 2008 7:24 pm ET

its amazing what can be done these days lol..

Acai Berry Pills   August 24th, 2008 2:48 pm ET

I'm always into discussions on anything organic, so this read made me feel at home.
I'll bookmark the site and subscribe to the feed!

elmer fudd   October 11th, 2008 5:46 pm ET

they said it is where science, religion, money and politics collide, so o.k. we get out there with our drilling riggs, and no doubt we find a lot of minerals ect and our drilling crews find organic molecules, so what does that really tell us in the -130 degree heat and the -300 degree cold, i suppose if there was going to be space travellers there would be some very important necessaties that would be needed there , while it is fascinating and interesting, is it really worth the cost spent on the program , i do not mind other people believeing there is intelligent life out there some where , but i have not seen UFO,s or space ALIENS to suggest that there is, would you not think that after travelling all that way that they would not stop in, like land , hello, greetings, come see us when you have time, i can imagine mars or the moon as stop over points if there is going to be space travelling , but is it of any other value than that?

Uggs Clearance On Sale   September 10th, 2015 8:28 pm ET

Fantastic points altogether, you simply gained a new reader. What may you recommend about your put up that you made some days in the past? Any positive?
Uggs Clearance On Sale

Chrome Hearts Store Pendants   May 18th, 2016 1:33 am ET

Get the marketing tools you need to succeed for website optimization
Chrome Hearts Store Pendants

Car Wreckers   December 8th, 2020 8:50 pm ET

Imogene Monterroza   December 20th, 2020 5:01 pm ET

When you have especially fair skin then you could notice which you are much more susceptible to moles. That is typical among people with lighter pores and skin and this is the cause why they ought to go to higher lengths to protect themselves in the sun’s dangerous effects.

kamagra price   January 7th, 2021 5:38 pm ET

I needed to draft you that little bit of observation so as to say thanks once again for your lovely pointers you've documented in this article. It is quite remarkably generous of people like you to deliver openly exactly what a number of us might have marketed as an e book to end up making some dough for themselves, most importantly given that you could possibly have done it if you ever decided. These pointers as well served like the fantastic way to fully grasp other people have similar eagerness like my own to know lots more on the topic of this issue. I am certain there are millions of more fun opportunities in the future for individuals who look over your blog post.

Royce Klostermann   January 11th, 2021 11:52 pm ET

I was just browsing for related blog posts for my project research and I happened to discover yours. Thanks for the useful information!

Albert Kallberg   January 28th, 2021 10:51 pm ET

Very interesting information!Perfect just what I was searching for! "Justice delayed is justice denied." by William Gladstone.

buy varicose veins threatment   February 22nd, 2021 9:52 am ET

Today, considering the fast life-style that everyone leads, credit cards have a big demand throughout the economy. Persons throughout every area of life are using the credit card and people who aren't using the credit cards have made up their minds to apply for even one. Thanks for revealing your ideas about credit cards. buy varicose veins threatment

Leone Brzostek   March 4th, 2021 9:55 am ET

I believe this site has got some rattling superb info for everyone :D. "Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face." by Victor Hugo.

sildenafil prescription canada   April 5th, 2021 5:10 pm ET

sildenafil citrate buy sildenafil 100mg tablets price

buy vardenafil over the counter with no pres. online   April 5th, 2021 5:34 pm ET

vardenafil sublingual under tongue vardenafil grapefruit interaction

zithromax pfizer   April 12th, 2021 4:07 pm ET

zithromax 500 mg oral tablet zithromax epocrates

tadalafil pills 20mg   April 12th, 2021 7:00 pm ET

tadalafil 40 mg daily tadalafil

buy online alprostadil vials   April 15th, 2021 11:22 am ET

alprostadil generic prices alprostadil cream cost

best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills   April 21st, 2021 10:12 am ET

canadian pills pharmacy canadian weight loss pills

viagra sin receta en farmacias de canada   April 22nd, 2021 1:45 am ET

anyone order viagra from canada what is the brand name for the generic drug for viagra in canada

vardenafil vs tadalafil which is better?   April 23rd, 2021 9:50 am ET

levitra (vardenafil) vardenafil vs viagra

sildenafil pills for sale   April 25th, 2021 8:52 am ET

how to buy sildenafil without a prescription sildenafil tablet online india

plaquenil vision problems   April 26th, 2021 11:47 pm ET

erectile function magnesium vitamin k erectile function after prostatectomy

avana   April 29th, 2021 12:17 am ET

avana 200 mg avanafil stendra dosage

canadian diet pills   April 30th, 2021 12:01 pm ET

canadian diet pills canadian diet pills

quineprox kratom chloroquine   April 30th, 2021 8:19 pm ET

chloroquine sulfur effects on body

viagra cost canada   May 1st, 2021 11:08 pm ET

canada cheap viagra best canada viagra pills online

canadian pharmacy tadalafil viagara cialis   May 2nd, 2021 8:14 am ET

canadian viagra cialis canadian pharmacy cialis no prescription

ed pills   May 2nd, 2021 8:54 am ET

does erectile dysfunction ever go away erectile hyperfunction

Leave Your Comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

subscribe RSS Icon
About this blog

Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

subscribe RSS Icon
Powered by VIP