publication . Article . 2014

Follow the Plume: The Habitability of Enceladus

Christopher P. McKay; Ariel D. Anbar; Carolyn C. Porco; Peter Tsou;
Open Access
  • Published: 31 Mar 2014 Journal: Astrobiology, volume 14, pages 352-355 (issn: 1531-1074, eissn: 1557-8070, Copyright policy)
  • Publisher: Mary Ann Liebert Inc
Abstract
The astrobiological exploration of other worlds in our Solar System is moving from initial exploration to more focused astrobiology missions. In this context, we present the case that the plume of Enceladus currently represents the best astrobiology target in the Solar System. Analysis of the plume by the Cassini mission indicates that the steady plume derives from a subsurface liquid water reservoir that contains organic carbon, biologically available nitrogen, redox energy sources, and inorganic salts. Furthermore, samples from the plume jetting out into space are accessible to a low-cost flyby mission. No other world has such well-studied indications of habit...
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Subjects
free text keywords: Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous), Space and Planetary Science, Enceladus, Astrobiology, Inorganic salts, Habitability, Environmental science, Icy moon, Energy source, Plume, Liquid water, Solar System
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