On the 28th of November, the space probe Cassini flying by Enceladus, managed to take a couple of snaps of Saturn’s sixth moon. Cassini snaps stunning photos of Enceladus on the day it celebrated nearly 18 years of space travel.
Cassini is a space project started back in 1997 with the participation of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. After 7 years of drifting through space, Cassini managed to enter in a standard orbit around Saturn in 2004.
Cassini approached Enceladus in 2008, and managed to get in a couple of snapshots of the surface. It seems that the best and most detailed pictures taken by Cassini were on the 14th of November this year, when it managed to capture the details of Enceladus’s North Pole.
Following the success of the first space reconnaissance, scientists went ahead and pushed Cassini even further into Enceladus’s icy crown. The result are a couple of unprocessed photographs clearly detailing the cracks and crevices present around the moon’s southern pole.
The reason why space agencies around the world have taken such a great interest in Saturn’s moon is because evidence of an underground icy ocean has been found. After Cassini’s September flyby, researchers confirmed that Enceladus indeed harbors an underground ocean. According to the images which were enhanced and processed, there are faint traces of hydrothermal activity, very close to the surface. This means that, hypnotically, the moon is capable of supporting primitive forms of life.
Cassini also detected other compounds such as water vapors, traces of methane, nitrogen and ammonia. They also are prospecting the possibility that other molecules capable of sustaining life could be present on the moon’s surface.
This discovery sparks a lot of enthusiasm among the scientists because of its immense potential. Basically, we can now say that we have discovered another planet capable of being colonized somewhere in the nearby future.
Although all of Earth’s attention is directed towards the Mars project, NASA continues the study of Enceladus. They eagerly await the date of December 19. On this date, the space probe will move even closer to Enceladus’s surface and could provide more data on various points of interest.
Cassini snaps stunning photos of Enceladus, the sixth moon, the one who, one day, couldbe called “home” by some who will decide to leave Earth in order to explore the outer rim of our Solar System.