Cassini spacecraft data reveal volatile organics in particles of one of the icy moons of ring-planet Saturn

News from Oct 02, 2019

Enceladus, one of the icy moons of the ring-planet Saturn, is ejecting from its south pole a plume of gas and ice grains originating from its subsurface ocean. Dr. Nozair Khawaja and his co-workers from the Freie Universität Berlin Planetary Sciences research group succeeded in detecting volatile, low mass soluble organic species, known precursors for the synthesis of biologically-relevant compounds in Earth’s hydrothermal systems, in the ice grains of the plume. Both very simple, and complex, poorly soluble organic molecules have previously been found in plume gases and ice grains, respectively. The results were recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.