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Saturn's Moon Enceladus Has Underground Ocean

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the water-at-the-bottom-of-the-ocean dept.

Space 51

astroengine (1577233) writes "Gravity measurements made with the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft indicate the small moon Enceladus has an ocean sandwiched between its rocky core and icy shell, a finding that raises the prospects of a niche for life beyond Earth. The Cassini data shows the body of water, which is in the moon's southern hemisphere, must be as large or larger than Lake Superior and sitting on top of the moon's rocky core at a depth of about 31 miles. 'The ocean may extend halfway or more toward the equator in every direction,' said planetary scientist David Stevenson, with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena."

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In a perfect world (0, Offtopic)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 8 months ago | (#46658855)

In my perfect world, everybody would care and I'd have seen this in the morning news, instead of ... I won't even describe the morning news composition, it's too depressing.

Re:In a perfect world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46658885)

Re:In a perfect world (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659099)

With the absolute global meltdown of religion that would likely happen in the event of the world learning that life exists beyond our planet, literally shattering damn near every major religion's core belief of a sky daddy/master creator/Adam and Eve, I really do wonder if we would ever hear such a confirmation out of NASA.

Needless to say I'm not holding my breath, for the same reason you've never heard a (real) confirmation about Roswell, and likely due to my theory above.

Re:In a perfect world (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659219)

With the absolute global meltdown of religion that would likely happen in the event of the world learning that life exists beyond our planet

I doubt it. Religions have a long history of adapting their scriptures to whichever situation they find themselves in. "God created the Heavens and the Earth. That includes Enceladus, right? And He didn't say He didn't create other life, right? Know what this means? We need donations for an interplanetary missionary mission!"

Re:In a perfect world (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 8 months ago | (#46660261)

Agreed. It wouldn't be a big deal at all. I really wish it would, for the lulz, but it won't. :-(

Re:In a perfect world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46662253)

It would cause some degree of schisming between those who take the adapted scripture and those who prefer the "finger in ear" approach to dealing with the new information.

Really though I don't think any of the big 4 modern religions have any stance on the existence or nonexistence of extraterrestrial life.

Re:In a perfect world (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659285)

With the absolute global meltdown of religion that would likely happen in the event of the world learning that life exists beyond our planet, literally shattering damn near every major religion's core belief of a sky daddy/master creator/Adam and Eve, I really do wonder if we would ever hear such a confirmation out of NASA.

You have religious people denying evolution. For extraterrestrial life to be relevant it has to be visible with the bare eye, alien enough to clearly not be from earth and you have to bring it alive to the very presence of the religious person to prove that it isn't fake.

As fun as formal proof is, proving something to another person is an entirely different beast. If they don't want it proven they can deny every argument you bring up indefinitely. Summoning hell-spawn demon-beasts from another planet aren't going to change their beliefs, they are just going to be more convinced that you are evil.

Re:In a perfect world (0)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 8 months ago | (#46659779)

You have religious people denying evolution. For extraterrestrial life to be relevant it has to be visible with the bare eye, alien enough to clearly not be from earth and you have to bring it alive to the very presence of the religious person to prove that it isn't fake.

Funny. I thought the religious nut jobs were supposed to be the gullible ones who believe without proof and the atheist scientists types questioned everything. The last time I checked, we did have the technology to fake video of just about anything, Fortunately we have a government who has never lied to or deceived the public in the past, right?

Re:In a perfect world (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 8 months ago | (#46659737)

With the absolute global meltdown of religion that would likely happen in the event of the world learning that life exists beyond our planet, literally shattering damn near every major religion's core belief of a sky daddy/master creator/Adam and Eve,

Why would it "shatter" anything? It may change some things. I'm sure you would probably consider me a religious nut job. But I have no issue with evolution, or that the age of the earth is 4.5 billion years (give or take). There is no where in the bible that says the earth is 6K years. That was a very flawed inference to begin with. I also would not be surprised if what many of us believe is god turns out to be an advanced alien, or alien race. If we brought someone from from biblical times to our time, they'd probably think we were gods. Just imaging if they met a non-corporeal being or even something like the Vorlons from B5. I'm not sure there wouldn't be a large portion of the population even today who wouldn't worship them.

Re:In a perfect world (1)

ThisIsAnonymous (1146121) | about 8 months ago | (#46659857)

It really depends on what is found. If we found some sort of basic or animal life, then it very well could impact people's religious views. Is it going to change my parent's minds? Of course not. They are 60+ and so fundamentally tuned that they would explain it away but for the younger generations that are already leaving churches, abandoning formal religion etc., it would probably play a role in altering the religious landscape. If we found intelligent life that we could communicate with, that would be a completely different matter. Imagine that these beings have such advanced medicine that they can somehow revive someone that has died or instantly cure the most advanced cancer we know of or create life. At that point, some people might say they are the "God" we've always worshiped but what are we going to say when they deny that and tell us that it is their science etc. that has given them those abilities...

Re:In a perfect world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46662099)

Just please, do not confuse the b.s. of man made religions with God, and his spirits, which are real. Just FYI...

Bah, he only says that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659587)

because he wants to live out his captain Kirk fantasy of banging a green skinned alien woman.

Re:Bah, he only says that (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 8 months ago | (#46662123)

because he wants to live out his captain Kirk fantasy of banging a green skinned alien woman.

And what's so wrong with that? ;^)

Re:In a perfect world (2, Informative)

telchine (719345) | about 8 months ago | (#46658969)

In my perfect world, everybody would care and I'd have seen this in the morning news.

It's yesterday's news, so it would be stale by this morning. Or do you read dead trees?

BBC had it on the front page last night.

Re:In a perfect world (0)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about 8 months ago | (#46659445)

Sucks eh? Jupter's moon Europa has the same. LOL the Saturns trying to keep up with the Jupiters.

Fish filet is back! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46658863)

Obligatory SMBC [smbc-comics.com]

Re:Fish filet is back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46658937)

Obligatory SMBC [smbc-comics.com]

"All these planets are yours except Europa. And Enceladus, I get my fish fingers from there."

Re:Fish filet is back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46658973)

Custard comes from Uranus.

stupid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46658917)

This should be posted on huffington post, I thought Slashdot was about IT. I need to find a real tech site about computers and stuff.

Re:stupid (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 8 months ago | (#46658951)

TFS:

Enceladus has an ocean sandwiched between its rocky core and icy shell, a finding that raises the prospects of a niche for life beyond Earth

that's stuff that matters, no?

Re:stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659121)

no, it doesn't matter in the slightest

Re:stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46658957)

"Gravity measurements made with [a computer]..."

Reported to you by computer, too! It's completely relevant.

Re:stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46658967)

Well, you could use some of that aggressive energy to actually influence what goes into the main page feed here [slashdot.org] . Or accept that "News for nerds, stuff that matters" actually means all nerds, not just your narrow view of what's important. So yeah, get working or get the fuck out.

Re:stupid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659063)

I've got news for you, if you can't program, then you're not a nerd.

This space crap is not in the slightest bit important, interesting, or related to tech stuff at all.

Slashdot rarely contains any IT related content anymore.

It's become the most boring place on the internet.

Re:stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659103)

I've got news for you, if you can't program, then you're a coder.

FTFY

Re:stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659163)

I've got news for you, the terms coder and programmer are synonymous, they mean the same thing

Re:stupid (0)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 8 months ago | (#46659075)

I need to find a real tech site about computers and stuff.

People who sound like this also sounded like this: /g/ [4chan.org]

Life? I doubt it. (5, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | about 8 months ago | (#46658965)

Its a tiny moon with very little energy internally and the rocky core has probably remained unchanged since the solar system was formed which means its unlikely to have much in the way of complex chemicals to kickstart anything. I doubt there's any subduction of the ice crust like on Europa so there's no way for anything to get down there either. If I was to lay money on it I'd say that water was about as sterile as you can get.

But I hope I'm wrong.

Re:Life? I doubt it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659005)

Life discovered, Americans demand to know whether the Enceladean sea monsters are gay.

Re:Life? I doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659141)

Life discovered, Americans demand to know whether the Enceladean sea monsters are gay.

One would hope that "life discovered" would be enough to distract the religious zealots and homophobes from needing an answer to the burning question of "born or taught" when it comes to Enceladean sea monsters.

Re:Life? I doubt it. (3, Informative)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 8 months ago | (#46659083)

If I was to lay money on it I'd say that water was about as sterile as you can get.

In earths underwater volcanic vents the environment is highly toxic with a high concentration of sulphur . The temperatures go up to 500 deg C .Life still flourishes . It is not carbon based life as we know , it is sulphur based life , deriving its energy from the vents. I'm not saying that means life will exist on europa or other similar moons but it's a demonstration of how simple life can exist in the most unforgiving conditions

Re:Life? I doubt it. (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 8 months ago | (#46659381)

Already pre-existing life adapting to living there is one thing - evolving there from base chemicals is another entirely.

Re:Life? I doubt it. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659439)

Already pre-existing life adapting to living there is one thing - evolving there from base chemicals is another entirely.

Except that hydrothermal vents are suspected to be a good contender for where life on Earth first evolved. [nature.com]

Re:Life? I doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659593)

500 C is a lot of energy, plus there's chemial energy, turbulence, tectonic plates etc. But hey, I'm still hope he's wrong, I mean space is not the cleanest enviroment, there's also chemicals like aminoacids, sugars, water ect. floating around, plus all kinds of asteroids.

Re:Life? I doubt it. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46660145)

It is not carbon based life as we know , it is sulphur based life ,

It is still carbon based life as in they are still predominately made of carbon and made of the same building blocks as the rest of life on Earth. Their source of energy though is from a chemical process using the sulphur from vents, as opposed to the seemingly much more common use of photosynthesis and eating things with sugar, protein and fats.

Re: Life? I doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46660811)

There is a big difference between life thriving in a chaotic environment, and life developing and then thriving in a sterile one.

If I take a steel ball, fill it with sterile water and seal it off from the world, let's see life form within.

In reality, it's the chaos of the early solar system that was very likely to have helped life to form. Hence in this case, where the water is held safely away from such chaos, that the likelihood of life is more slim.

Re:Life? I doubt it. (1)

Dasher42 (514179) | about 8 months ago | (#46661229)

It does matter, though, where life starts and evolution takes it. Life is unlikely to emerge initially from the conditions most hostile to it, but given enough of an incubator, it can get started and incrementally evolve through natural selection to survive wherever there is something to feed it. Given that, Viol8 could be right. The energy and nutrient input isn't immediately obvious. ...Unless the tidal motion supplies energy, and organic compounds are widely spread throughout the universe and are present in the materials the solar system was formed from.

Re:Life? I doubt it. (1)

devnulljapan (316200) | about 8 months ago | (#46663921)

Sulphur-based life? I don't think so. They have a great deal of sulfide-based chemistry but their biology is still carbon-based.

Re:Life? I doubt it. (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 8 months ago | (#46659105)

Isn't there liquid water in the first place because of tidal heating? Tidal forces move some things around.
Lack of sunlight including ultraviolets is the problem I think of, especially if the ocean is pretty much sealed from the surface as you speculate though there is cryvolcanism.

Re:Life? I doubt it. (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 8 months ago | (#46660249)

Water just sloshing around isn't going to do much on its own if the rocks its sitting on don't have anything complex enough to kick off whatever chemical reactions were the precursors to life.

I guess we missed the fine print... (2)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 8 months ago | (#46659107)

...on the monolith declaring "All your worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landing there."

"Oh, and also Enceladus on the next planet over. Thanks!"

huge leaps of science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659315)

I love how they first presume gravity measurements = mass measurement (when we really don't quite know what the exact relationship is yet), then use fudged-mass-measurement + volume ratio + spectral radiation = phase-state somehow. That's a HUUUUUGEE set of massive leaps... wtf. and they wonder why people don't trust "science".

Re:huge leaps of science (2)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 8 months ago | (#46659403)

That's a HUUUUUGEE set of massive leaps... wtf. and they wonder why people don't trust "science".

Nobody wonders why ignorant people don't trust science. The reason is simple and ever unchanging. It's because they are ignorant.

Re:huge leaps of science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46661309)

What about the people who aren't ignorant and still don't trust science?

I shouldn't have to tell you that scientists aren't always right.

Thanks,
God

Re:huge leaps of science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46679515)

This group does not exist

Thanks,
Reality

All these worlds are yours... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659519)

... except Enceladus. Attempt no landings there.

It's... (1)

Alsee (515537) | about 8 months ago | (#46659527)

Magma.
Molten ice.

-

So we can find an ocean 31 miles below,,, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659617)

the surface of a distant moon using sensors from a very long distance away, but we can't find a Boeing 777 that crashed right under our noses?

Re:So we can find an ocean 31 miles below,,, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46659879)

If the plane was as large as an ocean it probably would have been found.

Re:So we can find an ocean 31 miles below,,, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46661643)

It's much worse - there are lots of planes in the oceans. Boats, trash, cars, shipping containers. If humans have made it, you can bet it's in the oceans somewhere.

2312 (2)

Lanforod (1344011) | about 8 months ago | (#46662197)

Can't wait to ingest some enceladian alien bugs that will protect me from radiation!
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