Saturn's moon Enceladus: Looking for traces of life in the water

Saturnmond Enceladus
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  • Testing the IceMole on Morteratsch glacier

    Scientists at FH Aachen tested the IceMole on the Morteratsch glacier in Switzerland, where it melted the ice successfully.

Is there life under the icy armour of Saturn's moon Enceladus? Active surface fissures that spew ice – the so-called cryovolcanoes – throw enormous jets of water ice into space, jets that harbour organic compounds and thus a chance of life. If Europe's plans for a mission to Enceladus should become reality, German researchers intend to scrutinise its bodies of water for traces of life. In a first step taken under the EnEx (Enceladus Explorer) joint project funded by the German Aerospace Centre, they plan to use a melt probe to drill down to a subglacial lake in the Antarctic and take contamination-free samples from it. EnEx is implemented by a university consortium headed by the Aachen University of Applied Sciences, where a suitable instrument platform, called IceMole, is already available.

Last modified:
17/08/2012 16:00:06