Saturn's Moon Enceladus Could Be Habitable

First Posted: Feb 23, 2017 03:10 AM EST

One of Saturn's moons, Enceladus, is potentially habitable. Recent observations on the giant ringed planet's satellite have revealed more features beyond its icy surface.

Fox News reported that NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured images of Saturn's moon, Enceladus, on Nov. 27, 2016. Taken by the spacecraft's narrow-angle camera using its green filter, the stunning photo displays the partially lit moon's Saturn-facing hemisphere and its wrinkly surface.

According to NASA, the spacecraft was more than 80,000 miles (12,8748 kilometers) above Enceladus by the time the photo was taken. Scientists observing the planet and its moons have collected significant data of the satellite, which may have pushed them further on their study on the moon's habitability.

"Over the course of the Cassini mission, observations have shown that Enceladus (313 miles across) not only has watery jets sending icy grains into space; under its icy crust it also has a global ocean, and may have hydrothermal activity as well," NASA officials captioned the image. "Since scientists believe liquid water is a key ingredient for life, the implications for future missions searching for life elsewhere in our solar system could be significant."

Cassini was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida in 1997. After four years of traveling to the Solar System's sixth planet, the mission has been retrieving brilliant data from Saturn and its moons. After 20 years, the mission will come to its victorious end by taking a plunge into Saturn's atmosphere.

On April 22, Cassini will begin its Grand Finale as it passes through the gaps of Saturn and its innermost ring. The final plunge into the planet's uncharted region is scheduled on Sep. 15.

Cassini is under the management of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology as a collaborative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency.

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