Bold New Missions to Jupiter and Saturn Planned
NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are pushing ahead with proposals to send ambitious missions to explore Jupiter, Saturn and the many moons that circle both planets, the two space agencies announced Wednesday.
NASA MISSION UPDATE
Data collected during several recent flybys of Titan by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have put another arrow in the quiver of scientists who think the Saturnian moon contains active cryovolcanoes spewing a super-chilled liquid into its atmosphere. The information was released during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Calif.
“Cryovolcanoes are some of the most intriguing features in the solar system,” said Rosaly Lopes, a Cassini radar team investigation scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “To put them in perspective – if Mount Vesuvius had been a cryovolcano, its lava would have frozen the residents of Pompeii.”
NASA MISSION UPDATE
The closer scientists look at Saturn’s small moon Enceladus, the more they find evidence of an active world. The most recent flybys of Enceladus made by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have provided new signs of ongoing changes on and around the moon. The latest high-resolution images of Enceladus show signs that the south polar surface changes over time.
Titan Triple Threat
“Athena Coustenis, an astrophysicist and planetologist with the Paris Observatory, is helping draft a plan to send a hot air balloon to Titan, as well as an orbiting spacecraft and a surface probe. Called TSSM â€“ the Titan and Saturn System Mission â€“ this three-tiered approach to exploration could shed more light on the still-mysterious moon.”
â€œ’Titan is the best place to go with a balloon because of the atmosphere,’ says Coustenis. Although the atmosphere of Titan is filled with a smoggy orange hydrocarbon haze, it is primarily composed of nitrogen â€“ just like Earthâ€™s. In fact, Astrobiologists think Titanâ€™s atmosphere may be quite similar to how the Earthâ€™s was billions of years ago, before life on our planet generated oxygen.”
University of Granada Press Release
Physicists of the University of Granada and the University of Valencia (Spain) have developed a proceeding to analyse specific data sent by the Huygens probe from Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, proving â€œin an unequivocal wayâ€ that there is natural electric activity in its atmosphere.
The scientific community thinks that there is a higher probability that organic molecules precursors to life could form in those planets or satellites which have an atmosphere with electric storms.