Enceladus Water Geyers Full of Organic Chemicals

“A completely unexpected surprise is that the chemistry of Enceladus,
what's coming out from inside, resembles that of a comet. To have primordial material coming out from inside a Saturn moon raises many questions on the formation of the Saturn system.”

- Hunter Waite, a Principal Investigator, Cassini Mission

On Wednesday, March 12, 2008, NASA's Cassini spacecraft flew along the south pole of Enceladus to sample water-ice, dust and gas in the geyser plumes that erupt there. This was the first of four Cassini flybys of Enceladus planned for 2008, the second coming in August. Image 2007 by Cassini-Huygens spacecraft.
On Wednesday, March 12, 2008, NASA's Cassini spacecraft flew along the south pole of Enceladus to sample water-ice, dust and gas in the geyser plumes that erupt there. This was the first of four Cassini flybys of Enceladus planned for 2008, the second coming in August. Image 2007 by Cassini-Huygens spacecraft.

March 30, 2008  Pasadena, California - NASA reported this week:

NASA's Cassini spacecraft tasted and sampled a surprising organic brew erupting in geyser-like fashion from Saturn's moon Enceladus during a close flyby on March 12. Scientists are amazed that this tiny moon is so active, "hot" and brimming with water vapor and organic chemicals.

New heat maps of the surface show higher temperatures than previously known in the south polar region, with hot tracks running the length of giant fissures. Additionally, scientists say the organics "taste and smell" like some of those found in a comet. The jets themselves harmlessly peppered Cassini, exerting measurable torque on the spacecraft, and providing an indirect measure of the plume density.

 

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