Even though it is long until we can set foot on the planets from our Solar System, we have the technology to create satellites and probes to send into space to study the cosmos. One such investigation is Cassini-Huygens which launched into space to examine Saturn, Saturn’s rings, and its moons.
Cassini is the product of the collaboration of three space agencies: NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), ESA (European Space Agency) and ASI (Italian Space Agency). The spacecraft was the fourth to be sent to investigate Saturn, but the first one to go into the planet’s orbit. Cassini was launched in 1997 and ended its mission in 2017.
2004 was the year that Cassini arrived on Saturn’s orbit. During the four years of the mission, Cassini stayed on the planet’s orbit, the probe scrutinized the rare characteristics of the planet along with its natural satellites. As we all know, Saturn has 62 known moons, Titan being the largest of them all.
Saturn’s Moon Enceladus Presents Water Geysers
Researchers’ attention was captured by the sixth-largest moon of Saturn, Enceladus. The natural satellite is one of the most reflective cosmic objects in our Solar System because the surface of Enceladus is made of fresh, clean ice. Crevasses traverse its icy surface and craters intersperse all over it. The surface temperature varies from -240o Celsius the lowest to -128o Celsius the highest.
As Cassini was orbiting Saturn, it flew close to Enceladus and was engulfed in columns of water, carbon dioxide and other hydrocarbons that came from geysers. This discovery caused quite a stir among astronomers and astrophysicists as the geysers meant that there was water under the icy surface of the moon. And water means only one thing: the possibility that Enceladus could support life in the distant future.
From the tonnes of water, carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons that are discharged every moment can result in energy. Enceladus has the potential to become one of the cosmic objects that researchers might into account in our search to other places in space we could inhabit.