Scientists Plan to Go to Saturn to Search for Alien Life!
It can be remembered that the Cassini probe is currently doing a good job of studying Saturn for us. The beautiful planet is just site of a next big expedition, however, as a new spacecraft will be on the lookout for alien life forms.
Astronomers think two of the planet's moons, Titan and Enceladus, could potentially support life. Now they want to send very high-tech monitoring equipment to Saturn in order to find out.
According to Science Alert, these proposals were presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference last week.
The first is the Enceladus Life Finder (ELF) project which was backed by NASA. The second one is the Explorer of Enceladus and Titan (E2T) project, supported by both NASA and the European Space Agency.
Both teams are looking for the funding necessary to make their dreams a reality. If they get the money, who knows what kind of scientific discoveries they can have in the near future.
ELF co-proposer Linda Spilker told Maddie Stone at Gizmodo that the biggest hope for ELF is to fully characterize the habitability of Enceladus's ocean. There's hope to know if the oceans in the moon can support life, or if there's actual life in them.
According to Science Alert, the proposed ELF flight plan would see it swoop down to a low altitude of around 50km above the surface of the moon's south pole. Then it would take samples of the ocean water spewed into the air through cracks in the icy surface.
Two mass spectrometers, those that will analyze chemical mixes, would then scan these geysers for signs of life, including hydrogen gas which is a common energy source, amino acids and carbon isotopes. These are found in certain patterns if microscopic life is present.
Meanwhile, according to Gizmodo, E2T researchers want to take a closer look at both moons, which are "prime environments in which to investigate the conditions for the emergence of life and the habitability potential of ocean worlds."
The E2T would also fly across Enceladus's south polar plumes and take readings from seawater, which was already done by Cassini, but with more precise and advanced instruments.
Meaning both missions will have probes that can scan beyond the capabilities of Cassini, which launched back in 1997, and will have technology that's potentially very newer.
The E2T will also be able to take hi-res photos of the moon's surface. After that, it would go to Titan for 17 passes through the moon on altitudes ranging from 900 to 1,500 kilometers with air samples collected and analyzed.
Another hi-res camera would be again used to take as many snaps as possible.