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

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

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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.

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