Cassini has just made its last flyby past Enceladus.
Here’s an intriguing possibility: the icy moon of Saturn known as Enceladus could have conditions conducive to life.
NASA just made its last flyby of Enceladus with Cassini recently, coming within just a few thousand miles of the fascinating moon. It has vast oceans beneath its icy shell, and scientists flew Cassini past it again to investigating interesting plumes that may come from some deep under the surface geologic activity — activity that could make it conducive to some form of life, according to Science World Report.
Cassini has spotted material blasting out from fractures near the south pole, and scientists know that there is a great ocean underneath the ice. But how likely is it that Enceladus actually hosts life?
Probably slim — but not impossible. If there is life, it would likely be in the form of tiny organisms like microbes. Of course, any finding of life outside of Earth would make massive waves in the scientific community. The very fact that there is an ocean at all certainly makes it an intriguing possibility.
For now, NASA will be saying goodbye to Enceladus as Cassini heads elsewhere, but there could be yet more discoveries to make at Enceladus, one of the most intriguing cosmic objects in our solar system. Cassini will monitor activity on Enceladus from a distance until it formally ends its mission in September of 2017.
In the meantime, scientists will be going over images and data from its latest flyby, hoping to uncover more clues to learn more about this mysterious world. If the results are interesting enough, perhaps NASA can figure out a way to send another spacecraft to look closer at Enceladus.