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10/10/2019 – Ephemeris – Saturn’s moon Enceladus may have the building blocks of life

October 10, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 7:07, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:52. The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 5:23 tomorrow morning.

Even though the Cassini mission to Saturn ended two years ago its data will be will be studied for decades by scientists around the world. One of Cassini’s discoveries were geysers of water ice being ejected from the small moon Enceladus, that creates Saturn’s tenuous E ring. Two instruments aboard Cassini, a mass spectrometer and a cosmic dust analyzer, discovered organic compounds in the geysers and the E ring. Further analysis by German geologists found nitrogen-oxygen molecules among the ice grains. These are like the constituent compounds that make up amino acids which on Earth make up the proteins of life. Currently both NASA and the Europeans are considering return missions to Enceladus.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Enceladus, a small moon of Saturn spews continues to geysers of water rom cracks in its south polar region indicating an ocean below its frozen icy exterior. Sampling the plumes with the right instruments may detect life on this small world without the need for drilling. Credit: NASA/JPL – Caltech

How organic compounds are attached to ice grains and ejected from Enceladus. Credit: NASA/JPL – Caltech.