Posted by: drew | March 9, 2006

NASA to make “Huge” Announcement Today

Concerning “possible life in our own galaxy.”

Huh? From 13 News from Central FL :

NASA is planning to make a huge announcement today, about possible life in our own solar system.

Exact details of what we can expect to hear have not been released. We do know that evidence has been found that could point to life relatively close to the earth.

Official word is expected this afternoon at 2 p.m. We’ll have complete coverage of today’s big news when it is released. Tune to News 13 for the complete story.

Stay tuned…

Update below the fold…

UPDATE: Ok, Drudge to the rescue:

NASA'S CASSINI DISCOVERS POTENTIAL LIQUID WATER ON ENCELADUS
Thu Mar 09 2006 11:21:33 ET

**Exclusive**

[Press release set for 2 PM ET release]

NASA's Cassini spacecraft may have found evidence of liquid water reservoirs that erupt in Yellowstone-like geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus. The rare occurrence of liquid water so near the surface raises many new questions about the mysterious moon.

"We realize that this is a radical conclusion - that we may have evidence for liquid water within a body so small and so cold," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. "However, if we are right, we have significantly broadened the diversity of solar system environments where we might possibly have conditions suitable for living organisms."

High-resolution Cassini images show icy jets and towering plumes ejecting huge quantities of particles at high speed. Scientists examined several models to explain the process. They ruled out the idea the particles are produced or blown off the moon's surface by vapor created when warm water ice converts to a gas. Instead, scientists have found evidence for a much more exciting possibility. The jets might be erupting from near-surface pockets of liquid water above 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), like cold versions of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone.

"We previously knew of at most three places where active volcanism exists: Jupiter's moon Io, Earth, and possibly Neptune's moon Triton. Cassini changed all that, making Enceladus the latest member of this very exclusive club, and one of the most exciting places in the solar system," said John Spencer, Cassini scientist, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder.

-more--2-

"Other moons in the solar system have liquid-water oceans covered by kilometers of icy crust," said Andrew Ingersoll, imaging team member and atmospheric scientist at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. "What's different here is that pockets of liquid water may be no more than tens of meters below the surface."

"As Cassini approached Saturn, we discovered the Saturnian system is filled with oxygen atoms. At the time we had no idea where the oxygen was coming from," said Candy Hansen, Cassini scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. "Now we know Enceladus is spewing out water molecules, which break down into oxygen and hydrogen."

Scientists still have many questions. Why is Enceladus so active? Are other sites on Enceladus active? Might this activity have been continuous enough over the moon's history for life to have had a chance to take hold in the moon's interior?

In the spring of 2008, scientists will get another chance to look at Enceladus when Cassini flies within 350 kilometers (approximately 220 miles), but much work remains after the spacecraft's four-year prime mission is over.

"There's no question, along with the moon Titan, Enceladus should be a very high priority for us. Saturn has given us two exciting worlds to explore," said Jonathan Lunine, Cassini interdisciplinary scientist, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.

Mission scientists report these and other Enceladus findings in this week's issue of Science.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology

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Responses

  1. Is this a Contact-like moment, or a hoax? I tried to look up their site, but it appears to have broken under load. Their domain is registered to an ISP. Guess we’ll just have to wait…

  2. As expected, it’s more of a “theoretical” announcement. The discovery of the plumes and water on this moon is exciting, but yeah, not so much a “Contact” moment.

  3. The story is out. It’s cool, but not life on another planet (yet). I just posted to my blog.

  4. You beat me to it!

  5. This man beats everyone to it…always:

    …except when he doesn’t. This picture was taken during that rarest of moments when the scoop eludes him.


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