Sea water on Enceladus?

Enceladus has always been my #1 favoritist place to look for life.  It’s not all that far away, and it seems to have a rather active geology.

Now, we get this:

Data from Cassini’s cosmic dust analyzer show the grains expelled from fissures, known as tiger stripes, are relatively small and predominantly low in salt far away from the moon. But closer to the moon’s surface, Cassini found that relatively large grains rich with sodium and potassium dominate the plumes. The salt-rich particles have an “ocean-like” composition and indicate that most, if not all, of the expelled ice and water vapor comes from the evaporation of liquid salt water.

That little moon just keeps getting cooler and cooler all the time.  Wonder when Virgin Galactic will start taking vacation trips there?

Cassini Iapetus Flyby

This is getting cooler than I really thought it would. Check out this incredibly ugly little Saturnian moon, Iapetus.

JPL has a lot more pics. It’s getting really close now. However, unlike Io or Europa, the closer it gets to Iapetus, the uglier it gets. This poor little moon has obviously been battered hard by meteor strikes. It’s little spine circling the moon is the source of a lot of speculation. However, my completely uneducated guess is those two really large strikes on the same side have something to do with it. If you’ve ever squeezed a pingpong ball really hard you’d know what I’m referring to. That’s just a guess tho. I’ll leave the hard science up to those who get paid to do it. I’m in the boat of those people who just LOVE seeing this for no other reason than curiosity.

Turning the Switch on, update

A couple of weeks ago I was lamenting the apparent loss of information from the Huygens probe on Titan.  Well lo and behold, we get this today:

Radio Telescopes Salvage Titan Wind Data, Huygens Scientists Say

U.S. and European researchers are lauding the effectiveness of a network of ground-based telescopes that has apparently salvaged a wind experiment feared lost during a mission to the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.

Astronomers were able to use a global group of radio telescopes and a simple signal tone bleated by Europe’s Huygens probe during its Jan. 14 Titan landing to determine the moon’s wind characteristics.

That is pretty dang cool.  I’d still like to see more pictures than what we apparently got.  Titan’s a pretty funky place apparently.

Titan

Imagine yourself just floating around in your spaceship.  You’ve got nothing better to do than look at objects like this for hours at a time.   That sounds so good to me right now.

Titan is a beautiful object.  Although only a moon of Saturn, it has more features than most “planets”.  Although I’m not too excited about visiting Mars, I would like to have rovers land on places like Europa, Io, and Titan.  There’s probably no chance of life on any of them, but we knew that about the Moon, Mars, Venus, and everywhere else we’ve gone.  Let’s just do it for the kicks of seeing what the rest of the universe has to look at.  We might figure some important things out along the way.  That, and better pictures of Titan are more than worth the cost.