Another smoking gun in the search for life in Enceladus’ ocean

This illustration shows Cassini diving through the Enceladus plume in 2015. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This illustration shows Cassini diving through the Enceladus plume in 2015.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Today, NASA-funded scientists announced a major new step in the search for life on Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, thanks to new data collected by the NASA/ESA Cassini mission.

Enceladus has attracted a lot of interest because it has an active pole that spews jets of material into outer space. During its last flyby over that pole, an instrument on board the Cassini spacecraft detected the presence of a biomarker—molecular hydrogen. This suggests that the ocean we know lies beneath the moon’s surface could indeed contain an ecosystem similar to the ones we find in deep-sea hydrothermal vents on Earth.

Quiescent volcanic activity on Io in November 2010

On the first half-nights of November 29 and 30 UT, telescope time with the W.M. Keck II telescope and its Adaptive Optics (AO) was granted to us. The goal of this observation program was to search and study multiple asteroids. Since Jupiter was close to its opposition and observable at the beginning of the night, we spent a short amount of time to observe Io, innermost Galilean satellite of Jupiter, well-known for its exotic and spectacular volcanism.

Venus: Another volcanically active world?

Dear Planetary enthusiasts,

Over the past week, we may have heard a lot about a famous volcano in Iceland, named Eyjafjallajokull, which forced more than 64,000 flights between Europe and the rest of the world to be canceled and affected the vacation and business trips of several millions of people. But have you heard about the Idunn Mons, Hathor and Innini Montes and Mielikki Mons? These are other exotic names for volcanoes located on another planet,  a world that we suspected for a long time to be volcanically active as well. A recent discovery may have confirmed the existence of active volcanoes on Venus.