Friday, May 4, 2012

Nasa probe flies past Saturn's icy moon Enceladus just 46 miles up - and captures mystery 'jets' of ice which may harbour life

A hair-raisingly close fly-by by Nasa's Cassini Probe aims to learn more about what lurks beneath the icy moon Enceladus's surface - and what exactly lurks in the 'geysers' of ice it spews into space.

Cassini captured a startling new picture of the jets, which a scientist claimed earlier this year could be 'snowing microbes' onto the icy moon.

These jets, which spew through cracks in the moon's icy shell, could lead back to a habitable zone that is uniquely accessible in all the solar system.

This week, Cassini flew past the moon just 46 miles above the surface.

The radio science team is particularly interested in learning how mass is distributed under Enceladus' south polar region, which features jets of water ice, water vapor and organic compounds spraying out of long fractures.

A concentration of mass in that region could indicate subsurface liquid water - where life could lurk. Read More