Saturn moon enceladus

Saturn’s tiny, icy moon of Enceladus could harbor the means to support life, according to new data from a US-European spacecraft. But don’t pack your bags yet, temperatures tend to reach only -198 degrees C (-324 F).

An international spacecraft has discovered complex organic molecules originating from an icy moon orbiting the planet of Saturn, scientists said on Wednesday.

Frank Postberg and Nozair Khawaja from Germany’s University of Heidelberg identified the molecules detected by the Cassini spacecraft after they were ejected in ice grains through cracks in Enceladus’ icy shell.

“It is the first ever detection of complex organics coming from an extraterrestrial waterworld,” Postberg said.

Cassini previously flew near to Enceladus in 2005 and discovered lighter organic molecules. Larger molecules like those recently detected are created by chemical processes that could support life, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).


Next year will be very much about Saturn. Early in the year, the Cassini spacecraft will come very close to the planet’s rings, transmitting unprecedented views of the breathtaking system.

However, on September 15, the joy will turn into sadness. At 1207 UTC the spacecraft will plunge into the planet and burn up in its thick atmosphere. This is going to be the end of one of the most successful space missions ever. The Cassini spacecraft, a US-European mission, was launched in 1997.

In 2004 Cassini entered Saturn’s orbit. It has radioed a plethora of scientific data and beautiful pictures back to Earth. In September, Cassini will have spent more than 13 years in Saturn’s orbit – much longer than previously anticipated.

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