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Oxygen found on one of Saturn's Moons


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#1 Rust

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 09:43 PM

The Story

QUOTE
Two years ago, when NASA's Cassini Solstice spacecraft flew past the moon Dione, it noticed something familiar. Oxygen is present in Saturn's third-largest moon's exosphere (it's extended, tenuous atmosphere), and according to research published this week, Cassini's hi-tech "nose" had sniffed it.

Obviously, the first thing that springs to mind when discussing oxygen is that it's a pretty important component for life on Earth. But Dione, a barren and icy world, possesses few attributes that would make it suitable for life as we know it.

Although it is known to be composed of significant quantities of water ice, there is no indication -- unlike sister Saturn moon Enceladus -- that there is any sub-surface aquifer of liquid water. Liquid water is key to the evolution of life.

So why is the discovery of oxygen in Dione's exosphere important? If Dione's got it, then perhaps its sibling moons also have it, giving us a tantalizing clue as to the possibility of life on the natural satellites around Saturn and Jupiter.

"Some of the other moons have liquid oceans and so it is worth looking more closely at them for signs of life," Andrew Coates, of University College London and lead scientist of the study, told BBC News.

It is thought the oxygen is being produced via interactions between Saturn's powerful radiation belts and Dione's water ice. The radiation breaks the water molecules down, liberating oxygen into the moon's exosphere.

This most recent discovery will no doubt give a boost to scientists lobbying for sending missions to the gas giant's satellites to search for alien life as, like the presence of liquid water, the presence oxygen could support microscopic lifeforms on other, more habitable moons.

The Cassini research has been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


This is awesome, and definitely warrants a closer look!
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#2 Copper Bezel

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 09:50 PM

Is free oxygen actually important? Earth didn't have any when life started here. Intriguing, though.

#3 Destron D-69

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 10:10 PM

yeah, the existence of elements outside of earth... not big news,

another one of those "get the ones that partly remember high school science" excited news days.

finding air and water are not necessary for finding life.. they're requirements for the majority of the life we know about to GO there

(not to mention a few other things like gravity and air pressure) but, yeah... not surprising.

not to pooh pooh on your parade though Rust, but it's like making a news story about going to the house next door and being amazed that they have sheets on their bed too.
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#4 crazyjw18

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 12:21 AM

It'd be more interesting if there was no easy explanation for it. Otherwise it's pretty meh. As stated before, life didn't start with a need for oxygen.

#5 Ave Destron!

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 12:26 AM

I guess the rest of us don't find this very exciting icon-fire.gif


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#6 Zek

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 02:17 AM

Guys, this is horrible news!



Those horrible made-for-women-TV-movies are spreading through the universe. The Omicronians are gonna see it in a thousand years and be pissed.

#7 Firebird1

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 08:49 AM

Should be interesting when exploring the outer solar system if we put a station or something out there. Right now not so much since we can only fling probes out there.


#8 The Predaking

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 09:35 AM

So what does this mean for Terra-forming it?

Restoring an Old Arcade Machine!

 

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#9 Vestras

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 09:39 AM

Well Predaking, It means Quaid already did his job. icon-fire.gif



But yea, Oxygen isn't saying much. Now, a Nitrogen Oxygen mix AND liquid water, then we're talking. Still, We need to do a lot more research and exploration of the Jovian and Saturnian systems. There's a lot of unknown unknown's about them.
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#10 wonko the sane?

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 09:40 AM

QUOTE(The Predaking @ Mar 6 2012, 10:35 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So what does this mean for Terra-forming it?

Too far away from a radiant light source to make it worth the effort. It also spends too much time hiding from the sun on the the other side of the saturn for it to take properly.

Does mean we could make a self sustaining colony out there. Oxygen is a hell of a lot like lego, once you got the basic blocks you can make a ton of stuff.

#11 NovaSaber

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 09:50 PM

QUOTE(Copper Bezel @ Mar 3 2012, 10:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Is free oxygen actually important? Earth didn't have any when life started here. Intriguing, though.

The fact that Earth wouldn't have free oxygen if it didn't have life first is actually exactly why finding oxygen in the right circucmstances (the lower atmosphere of a world whose surface doesn't get a lot of radiation, for example) could be evidence of life.

#12 Copper Bezel

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 04:16 PM

No, I get that. I mean, if it's actually being proposed that it's biogenic, then this is more than big. However, what's proposed above is that the oxygen is being produced from a non-biological process. If that proves wrong, then this could prove to be a very big deal. The presentation in the article that oxygen is needed for life is still wrong, and a supply of non-biogenic oxygen is probably not going make life substantially more likely on a world without liquid water, so it doesn't make Dione any more exciting by itself if we can explain its presence.

#13 D.M

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 07:03 PM

QUOTE(The Predaking @ Mar 6 2012, 03:35 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So what does this mean for Terra-forming it?

It's smaller than our own moon soooo that would be pretty much impossible.

#14 wonko the sane?

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 07:07 PM

QUOTE(D.M @ Mar 8 2012, 08:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE(The Predaking @ Mar 6 2012, 03:35 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So what does this mean for Terra-forming it?

It's smaller than our own moon soooo that would be pretty much impossible.

You think too small. It's not that large a celestial body: we could easily build a structure around the body that would allow us to flood the new space with earth atmosphere. Throw in some artificial sunlight and heaters and we got us a world in a bottle.

#15 D.M

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 07:12 PM

QUOTE(wonko the sane? @ Mar 9 2012, 01:07 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE(D.M @ Mar 8 2012, 08:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE(The Predaking @ Mar 6 2012, 03:35 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So what does this mean for Terra-forming it?

It's smaller than our own moon soooo that would be pretty much impossible.

You think too small. It's not that large a celestial body: we could easily build a structure around the body that would allow us to flood the new space with earth atmosphere. Throw in some artificial sunlight and heaters and we got us a world in a bottle.

We're ceeeeeeeeeeeeeeenturies away from being able to do that. We still haven't even built a base on the Moon! icon-blitz.gif

#16 Esser-Z

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 12:58 PM

Seeing how fast we went from steam power to tablet computers, I'm not convinced centuries is quite right.

#17 wonko the sane?

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 02:20 PM

QUOTE(D.M @ Mar 8 2012, 08:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE(wonko the sane? @ Mar 9 2012, 01:07 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE(D.M @ Mar 8 2012, 08:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE(The Predaking @ Mar 6 2012, 03:35 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So what does this mean for Terra-forming it?

It's smaller than our own moon soooo that would be pretty much impossible.

You think too small. It's not that large a celestial body: we could easily build a structure around the body that would allow us to flood the new space with earth atmosphere. Throw in some artificial sunlight and heaters and we got us a world in a bottle.

We're ceeeeeeeeeeeeeeenturies away from being able to do that. We still haven't even built a base on the Moon! icon-blitz.gif

No, we haven't built a base on the moon because its an ecomonic sink with no real purpose at the moment. Once there's money to be made, there'll be entire cities up there and damn quick too. But our limitied knowledge of the geography of the moon currently leads us to believe that the only thing of worth up there is helium 3... and there's no market for it in volume.

#18 Canthros

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 02:28 PM

A user named Rust is excited to hear that oxygen has been found on either planets.

Did they find iron, too? Maybe he's hoping to connect with some long-lost family members?
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#19 Rust

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 04:01 PM

QUOTE(Canthros @ Mar 10 2012, 01:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
A user named Rust is excited to hear that oxygen has been found on either planets.

Did they find iron, too? Maybe he's hoping to connect with some long-lost family members?


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We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. –Plato



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