Saturn moon Enceladus is 1st alien 'water world' with complex organics
By Charles Q. Choi
June 29, 2018, 9:14:13 AM EDT
Complex organic molecules have been discovered for the first time coming from the depths of Saturn's moon Enceladus, a new study reported.
Spacecraft scheduled to launch soon could explore what this new discovery says about the chances of life within icy moons like Enceladus, the study's researchers said.
The sixth largest of Saturn's moons, Enceladus is only about 314 miles (505 kilometers) in diameter. This makes the moon small enough to fit inside the borders of Arizona.
In 2005, NASA's Cassini spacecraft detected plumes of water vapor and icy particles erupting from Enceladus, revealing the existence of a giant ocean hidden under the moon's frozen shell. Because there is life virtually wherever there is water on Earth, these findings suggested that life might also exist on Enceladus.
Previously, scientists had detected only simple organic (carbon-based) compounds, each less than about five carbon atoms in size, in the plumes of Enceladus. Now, researchers have detected complex organic molecules from the moon, including some at least 15 carbon atoms in size.
"This is the first-ever detection of complex organics coming from an extraterrestrial water world," study lead author Frank Postberg, a planetary scientist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, told Space.com.
More Weather News
Weather News - December 19, 2018, 5:46:37 AM EST
Prior to one of the busiest travel days of the year, strong to, at times, damaging winds will whip through the Front Range of the Rockies and High Plains at midweek.
Weather News - December 19, 2018, 5:12:37 AM EST
A powerful storm plowed into Washington state on Tuesday afternoon, bringing a tornado, high winds, heavy rain and heavy snow.
Weather News - December 18, 2018, 2:20:05 PM EST
A major storm that will plow into the eastern half of the United States late this week could throw a wrench into plans for early holiday travelers as well as holiday shipping.
Weather News - December 19, 2018, 5:32:27 AM EST
Expect more storms with heavy rain, heavy mountain snow and rough seas to lash the West Coast of the United States into Christmas Day.
Weather News - December 19, 2018, 2:37:50 AM EST
A slow-moving storm system will bring daily downpours to parts of the Middle East through Thursday.
As wildfires rage and threaten to destroy everything in their paths, we often hear that they are contained by a certain percentage.
Weather News - December 19, 2018, 4:57:31 AM EST
Following far-reaching snowstorms from November and early December, a lack of Arctic air will generally limit the chances of a white Christmas to the northern tier states and the mountains of the West for Dec. 25, 2018.
Fighting wildfires costs the United States billions of dollars each year. It turns out that humans have ignited a significant chunk of these destructive blazes.