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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Life on Enceladus?
22 June 2011 1:01 pm
Spouting plumes of ice and water vapor certainly make Enceladus one of the solar system's liveliest places. But continuing studies of the composition of those plumes are now making Saturn's icy moon the most promising place to look for extraterrestrial life. Researchers reported at a May meeting and online today in Nature that the best sampling yet of the plumes by the Cassini spacecraft reveals strong evidence for liquid water beneath the deeply frigid surface—an ocean, a sea, or at least water-filled cracks. Solid ice had been a contender to explain the gases and particles found in the plumes. But Cassini observations, including ever-rising estimates of the amount of heat given off by the moon, were challenging the ice-only source. Now analyses of Cassini data from a flyby through the heart of the plumes show that 99% of the mass of plume ice-particles is salt-rich. That alone strongly implies that the water in plume ice came from salty liquid water somewhere beneath the surface, say the researchers. Direct proof of a watery interior must likely await another mission, which may not come for decades.
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