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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "fox-news/science/saturn"

Saturn’s mysterious moon could support alien life thanks to this new discovery

Saturn’s moon Enceladus has an even better chance of supporting extraterrestrial life than previously thought: researchers have discovered its oceans are more complex than first believed.

The moon’s oceans shoot plumes of carbon dioxide into space, researchers have found, using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The findings, published in Geophysical Research Letters, point to reactions between the water and the core of the celestial satellite as the source of the complexity, discovered thanks to a new technique the researchers used.

“By understanding the composition of the plume, we can learn about what the ocean is like, how it got to be this way and whether it provides environments where life as we know it could survive,” said Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) researcher Christopher Glein in a statement. “We came up with a new technique for analyzing the plume composition to estimate the concentration of dissolved CO2 in the ocean. This enabled modeling to probe deeper interior processes.”

Westlake Legal Group saturn-photos-enceladus-mosaic-1 Saturn's mysterious moon could support alien life thanks to this new discovery fox-news/science/saturn fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia b088b7c9-9fa7-55a6-a11c-c59017f48402 article

This image of the geyser-spewing Saturn moon Enceladus was taken on Oct. 5, 2008 by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

MYSTERIOUS SATURN MOON COULD BE BEST PLACE TO LOOK FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE, TOP PHYSICIST SAYS

The Cassini spacecraft intentionally plunged itself into Saturn’s atmosphere in September 2017 after it was launched in 1997 at a total cost of $3.9 billion ($2.5 billion in pre-launch costs and $1.4 billion in post-launch). It spent 13 years circling, studying and taking data of Saturn and its moons.

Combined with previous discoveries of molecular hydrogen and silica, the “abundance” of carbon dioxide reacting with the core of the moon and the water in the moon’s subsurface oceans add credence to the idea there are energy sources on Enceladus that could support life.

“The dynamic interface of a complex core and seawater could potentially create energy sources that might support life,” said SwRI’s Hunter Waite in the statement. “While we have not found evidence of the presence of microbial life in the ocean of Enceladus, the growing evidence for chemical disequilibrium offers a tantalizing hint that habitable conditions could exist beneath the moon’s icy crust.”

“The implications for possible life enabled by a heterogeneous core structure are intriguing,” Glein added. “This model could explain how planetary differentiation and alteration processes create chemical (energy) gradients needed by subsurface life.”

Prior to the flybys by Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 in the early 1980s, not much was known about the “ocean-world” moon, despite it being discovered in 1789.

Westlake Legal Group saturn-moon-enceladus-nasa Saturn's mysterious moon could support alien life thanks to this new discovery fox-news/science/saturn fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia b088b7c9-9fa7-55a6-a11c-c59017f48402 article

Plumes on Enceladus (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute) (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

NASA: SATURN’S MOON, ENCELADUS, COULD SUPPORT LIFE

In 2017, NASA found the presence of hydrogen in its atmosphere, something Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s JPL, said at the time could be meaningful as a “potential source for energy from any microbes.”

One year later, scientists made a startling announcement when they said they had found complex organic molecules, the “building blocks” for life, on the moon. Separately that year, researchers determined Enceladus’s ocean is likely 1 billion years old, placing it in the sweet spot for supporting life.

Earlier this year, researchers determined its ocean is likely 1 billion years old, placing it in the sweet spot for supporting life. Last year, researchers acknowledged that they had found the “building blocks” for life on Enceladus, having discovered complex organic molecules.

Enceladus is not the only celestial satellite of Saturn to intrigue scientists. In June, NASA announced the latest mission in its New Frontiers program. Known as Dragonfly, the mission will explore Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, which could potentially host extraterrestrial life.

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Mysterious Saturn moon could be best place to look for extraterrestrial life, top physicist says

NASA has previously said Saturn’s moon Enceladus could support life, making it one of, if not the most intriguing place in the solar system. Now, the former director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the current project scientist for the Voyager program is pleading with the space agency to head toward the icy celestial satellite in hopes of discovering life.

“We really need to get back and look at that moon,” Ed Stone told The Guardian. “We know there’s water ice evaporating – geysering – from its south pole. It’s snowing all the time. That means there’s liquid water beneath the icy crust. Here on Earth, wherever there’s water there’s microbial life.”

Stone, 83, is also a professor at California Institute of Technology and has been the project scientist for the Voyager program since 1972.

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With its global ocean, unique chemistry and internal heat, Enceladus has become a promising lead in our search for worlds where life could exist. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

SATURN’S MOON ENCELADUS COULD SUPPORT LIFE AS MORE EVIDENCE EMERGES

NASA has not yet responded to a request for comment for this story.

Prior to the flybys by Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 in the early 1980s, not much was known about the moon, known as an “ocean-world,” discovered in 1789. “When we flew by, it was this bright white,” Stone added. In 2005, the Cassini spacecraft did several flybys of the celestial satellite, discovering water plumes from its south pole.

In 2017, NASA found the presence of hydrogen in its atmosphere, something Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s JPL, said at the time could be meaningful as a “potential source for energy from any microbes.”

One year later, scientists made a startling announcement when they said they had found complex organic molecules, the “building blocks” for life, on the moon. Separately that year, researchers determined Enceladus’s ocean is likely 1 billion years old, placing it in the sweet spot for supporting life.

The Cassini spacecraft intentionally plunged itself into Saturn’s atmosphere in September 2017, leaving Stone to wonder what other finds a future craft could discover. “There are people thinking how to fly through the geysers,” he said. “I think it would be best to fly through the geysers and bring back samples to Earth to see if there were microbes there.”

Westlake Legal Group saturns-moon Mysterious Saturn moon could be best place to look for extraterrestrial life, top physicist says fox-news/topic/aliens fox-news/science/saturn fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 52bb1b30-f246-5d2d-88a1-567ba132ccf6

This unprocessed view of Saturn’s moon Enceladus was acquired by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during a close flyby of the icy moon on Oct. 28, 2015. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Cassini was launched in 1997 at a total cost of $3.9 billion ($2.5 billion in pre-launch costs and $1.4 billion in post-launch) and spent 13 years circling, studying and taking data of Saturn and its moons.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE ON EUROPA OR ENCELADUS COULD BE ‘INDIGENOUS,’ STUDY SAYS

“Microbes are the most likely things for us to find,” Stone continued. “We’d want to look at that to see if microbes are related to those here on Earth or distinctly different.”

Though NASA has said previously Enceladus is a “promising ‘ocean world,'” it was not included in the itinerary for its latest mission to explore one of Saturn’s moons. As part of its New Frontiers program, NASA will send the Dragonfly spacecraft to explore Titan, which like Enceladus, is also an “ocean world” that could potentially host extraterrestrial life.

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Extraterrestrial life on Europa or Enceladus could be ‘indigenous,’ study says

If there is life in the Solar System outside of Earth, Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus are two of the most likely spots to hold them.

However, any extraterrestrial creatures on these celestial objects probably are not related to us, according to a new study.

The research, presented at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union by Purdue University geophysicist Jay Melosh, looked at the idea of “lithopanspermia,” an idea that life hopped from one planet to another via rocks that were ejected into space, according to Space.com, which first reported the news.

In 100,000 simulated ejections from Martian particles, Melosh found that a tiny fraction of these rocks —  0.0000002 percent to 0.0000004 percent for Enceladus and 0.00004 percent to 0.00007 percent for Europa —  ended up hitting these moons. He used three different ejection speeds in his simulations: 1, 3 and 5 kilometers per second.

Westlake Legal Group enceladus-hawaii-volcano Extraterrestrial life on Europa or Enceladus could be 'indigenous,' study says fox-news/science/saturn fox-news/science/jupiter fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 65a546a4-7361-50af-95c2-05d756ad92f0

With its global ocean, unique chemistry and internal heat, Enceladus has become a promising lead in our search for worlds where life could exist. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA DETECTS WATER VAPOR ON JUPITER’S MOON EUROPA

Lithopanspermia is similar to panspermia, the hypothesis that life on Earth originated from microorganisms in outer space that were carried here unintentionally by objects such as space dust, meteoroids and asteroids, according to an article on NASA’s website.

Using the baseline that approximately 1 ton of Martian rocks hit Earth ever year, Melosh estimated that Europa sees an average of approximately 0.4 grams of Martian material and just 2 to 4 milligrams for Enceladus.

“So, the bottom line: If life should be found in the oceans of Europa or Enceladus, it is very likely that it’s indigenous rather than seeded from Earth, Mars or (especially) another solar system,” Melosh said during the conference, according to Space.com.

Westlake Legal Group c8REVuV8yhWorBxNJB6gBk Extraterrestrial life on Europa or Enceladus could be 'indigenous,' study says fox-news/science/saturn fox-news/science/jupiter fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 65a546a4-7361-50af-95c2-05d756ad92f0

NASA’s Galileo spacecraft captured this color composite view of the Jupiter moon Europa in 1997. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

ALIEN LIFE ON SATURN’S MOON? DUST STORMS ON TITAN SPOTTED FOR THE FIRST TIME

Melosh added that it takes approximately 2 billion years for a meteorite from Mars to hit Enceladus. If there were living organisms on these Martian space rocks, it’s possible they could survive if the speed was at the lower end of the range he put forth, but if the speeds were higher, survival would be difficult to imagine, he added.

In June, NASA said it would send a mission to one of Saturn’s other moons, Titan, which could also be home to life. Launching in 2026, the mission, known as Dragonfly, will see a rotorcraft fly “to dozens of promising locations” on Titan after it arrives in 2034.

Two months later, NASA confirmed it would launch a mission to Europa, a trek that could answer whether the icy celestial body could be habitable for humans and support life.

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Age of Saturn’s rings debated as questions about life emerge

Saturn’s rings may be shining as bright as ever, but the debate over how old they are has rekindled following a new study.

The research, published in Nature Astronomy, suggests that even though the rings might appear young in a cosmic sense, data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows that they are in fact nearly as old as the universe itself.

“Spectacular results from Cassini’s Grand Finale have provided constraints on the characteristics and evolutionary processes of Saturn’s rings,” the study’s abstract states. “These results have been interpreted as proof that the rings are much younger than the Solar System, dramatically changing our view of the origin of the whole Saturnian system and attracting the attention of scientific media outlets.”

Westlake Legal Group saturn-nasa Age of Saturn's rings debated as questions about life emerge fox-news/science/saturn fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 56ee1ced-6971-57b0-a94d-a5c0af9e13fb

The latest view of Saturn from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captures exquisite details of the ring system — which looks like a phonograph record with grooves that represent detailed structure within the rings — and atmospheric details that once could only be captured by spacecraft visiting the distant world.  (NASA, ESA, A. Simon (GSFC), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL Team)

SATURN’S MOON ENCELADUS COULD SUPPORT LIFE AS MORE EVIDENCE EMERGES

The abstract continues: “But we should keep in mind that the age of the rings has not actually been measured (which is impossible per se) but rather is inferred. Here, we put these latest results into perspective and we point out that the young-rings hypothesis has some unsolved problems. Other interpretations, compatible with rings as old as the Solar System, are still possible.”

In September 2017, Cassini was plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere after an epic 20-year space journey.

Other studies have suggested that the rings, which are comprised of more than 95 percent water, could be as slightly younger than the dinosaurs. However, the study’s lead author, Aurélien Crida, disputes that, citing the bombardment rate of tiny meteorites (known as micrometeoroids) and the weight of the rings.

“I have to admit that I am biased, because I like very much the model of satellite formation from rings (I contributed to develop it), and I would be annoyed if it [were] proven impossible,” he told Space.com in an interview.

“But I think that, objectively, it forms a much more consistent picture, with a convincing model of their formation at the same time as Saturn, plus formation and outward migration of the satellites in agreement with the observations,” he continued. “In addition, the present mass is very consistent with 4.5 billion years of evolution, so that everything fits together.”

ALIEN LIFE ON SATURN’S MOON? DUST STORMS ON TITAN SPOTTED FOR THE FIRST TIME

In the past, researchers have suggested that if Saturn’s rings were ancient, they would be littered with organic molecules, silicates and other material. Cassini did find some organic material in the gas giant’s upper atmosphere and solid grains in the gap between the planet and the closest ring, which the researchers believe adds credence to their theory that the rings are indeed ancient.

“One possible explanation is that the (unknown) process responsible for the erosion of the rings and the launch of these nanograins is actually ‘cleaning’ the rings, preferentially removing silicates rather than water ice,” the researchers wrote in the study.

Speaking with Space.com, Crida said that identifying the age of Saturn’s rings is important, as it could lead to the discovery of the age of Saturn’s moons, including Enceladus. The possibility that the moon could support life has strengthened recently after researchers determined its ocean is likely 1 billion years old, placing it in the sweet spot.

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Mysterious ice on Saturn’s moon Titan stretches for thousands of miles

Westlake Legal Group mysterious-ice-on-saturns-moon-titan-stretches-for-thousands-of-miles Mysterious ice on Saturn's moon Titan stretches for thousands of miles fox-news/science/saturn fox news fnc/science fnc Christopher Carbone article 3a5b9df4-cc08-5b5e-b70f-b55e231dce55
Westlake Legal Group RkFmHeGRkR7YuHFwAPrhE-650-80 Mysterious ice on Saturn's moon Titan stretches for thousands of miles fox-news/science/saturn fox news fnc/science fnc Christopher Carbone article 3a5b9df4-cc08-5b5e-b70f-b55e231dce55

Saturn’s moon Titan has a mysterious ice formation that stretches nearly halfway across its massive surface.

Scientists, who are unsure what type of geologic feature the ice block may indicate, based their new research on data gathered from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which spent 13 years examining the Saturn system.

“It’s a good example of how we’re doing really well at continuing to mine these amazing Cassini data for new results,” Jani Radebaugh, a planetary scientist at Brigham Young University who wasn’t involved in the new research, told Space.com. “We’re far from being finished with understanding Titan to the degree we can with Cassini.”

MYSTERY SEA OPENED UP DURING THE ANTARCTIC WINTER. NOW, SCIENTISTS KNOW WHY

Titan, which is 50 percent larger than Earth’s Moon, has an atmosphere that’s rich in nitrogen – and contains some methane, hydrogen and other gases –  where liquids made of organic compounds rain down on its surface. The moon’s surface temperature is a bone-chilling −179.2 degrees Celsius, and Titan only receives 0.1 percent of the light that the Earth gets.

“What we’re curious about is, beyond that global gentle snowfall of organics, what’s happening?” Radebaugh told Space.com. “It can be really hard to see through that layer to be able to see what’s going on.”

Researchers used a technique called principal component analysis, which allows them to pick up on smaller elements in the data that might be overlooked otherwise, according to Space.com.

ALASKA’S EXCELSIOR GLACIER IS BEING REPLACED BY A LAKE 5 TIMES THE SIZE OF CENTRAL PARK

Still, scientists said more research is needed to discover what exactly caused the uncovered ice on Titan’s surface.

“It’s a big feature that tells us something about the way that Titan was in the past, but we don’t know really what it is,” lead author Caitlin Griffith, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona, told Space.com. “I think right now it’s basically telling us that it’s complicated, the surface is fairly complicated.”

The research is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

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Saturn’s moon Titan has a lake with features similar to Earth, could support life

Westlake Legal Group saturns-moon-titan-has-a-lake-with-features-similar-to-earth-could-support-life Saturn’s moon Titan has a lake with features similar to Earth, could support life fox-news/science/saturn fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 51951b36-fedf-5d25-84d8-ee5c017315cc

Shortly before it plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere in late 2017, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made an incredible observation about the ringed planet’s moon, Titan – its lakes are extraordinarily deep and filled with methane.

Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and the second-largest natural satellite in the Solar System behind Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, has methane rain that can fill lakes as much as 330 feet deep, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Astronomy.

“Every time we make discoveries on Titan, Titan becomes more and more mysterious,” said lead author Marco Mastrogiuseppe, Cassini radar scientist at Caltech in a statement. “But these new measurements help give an answer to a few key questions. We can actually now better understand the hydrology of Titan.”

SCIENTISTS HAVE FOUND THE ‘BUILDING BLOCKS’ FOR LIFE ON SATURN’S MOON ENCELADUS

The researchers found that the hydrologic cycle on Titan is similar to that of Earth’s, except that clouds and rain are not made up of water, but rather methane and ethane. Due to Titan’s freezing cold temperatures, (it can reach as low as –290 degrees Fahrenheit), these hydrocarbons stay in liquid form, as opposed to gas, their state on Earth.

Westlake Legal Group saturn-methane Saturn’s moon Titan has a lake with features similar to Earth, could support life fox-news/science/saturn fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 51951b36-fedf-5d25-84d8-ee5c017315cc

This near-infrared, color view from Cassini shows the sun glinting off of Titan’s north polar seas. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho)

The hydrology on the northern hemisphere of Titan is different than that on the other side, according to Cassini scientist and co-author Jonathan Lunine of Cornell University.

“It is as if you looked down on the Earth’s North Pole and could see that North America had completely different geologic setting for bodies of liquid than Asia does,” Lunine added in the statement.

A second paper published in Nature goes into greater depth on the hydrologic cycle of Titan, noting that there appear to be “seasonal surface changes” causing the change in the surface liquids.

After spending 13 years studying the planet, Cassini intentionally plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere in September 2017.

ALIEN LIFE ON SATURN’S MOON? DUST STORMS ON TITAN SPOTTED FOR THE FIRST TIME

Methane-based life?

The prospect of methane-based life on Titan has been postulated before, after NASA found traces of vinyl cyanide in the atmosphere last year.

In January, researchers revealed that fresh rainfall had been spotted on Titan in 2016, which caused a reflective feature near the north pole of the moon.

In September 2018, dust storms were spotted on Titan for the first time ever, raising the prospect the storms could be a precursor to alien life on the celestial body.

It’s possible the storms are comprised of “organic molecules” NASA said, due to the chemistry of the atmosphere. Titan’s atmosphere is comprised of 98.4 percent nitrogen, 1.6 percent methane and 0.1-0.2 percent hydrogen.

SATURN’S BIGGEST MOON TITAN MAY BAKE ITS OWN ATMOSPHERE

However, once the organic molecules get big enough, they eventually fall to Titan’s surface and may play a part in the dust storms.

The prevalence of dust storms and strong winds on Titan implies that the underlying sand can be moved as well and that the “giant dunes” that cover the moon’s equatorial regions are constantly changing and still active.

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