Yukyung Katie Kim
Teacher: Mr. Taylor
The celestial bodies have long been mere sources of beauty and rapture for the human race. However, thanks to advancements in technology such as the Cassini probe, much more value can now be received from bodies such as Enceladus, especially its plumes.
Although some scientists have guessed that the tidal heating occurring on Enceladus due to Saturn’s immense gravity have caused geysers to form, when calculated, the heat produced by tidal heating is not enough to create geysers. This means that there is a mysterious source of heat heating up in the interior of the Enceladus to create its plumes. Focusing the Cassini probe on Enceladus may give us a better clue on what exactly is heating the moon, or may instead, confound us, meaning that we have discovered a heating mechanism previously unseen. Either way, the Cassini probe will be able to shed some light on what exactly causes the Enceladus plumes. There are no guarantees about what the Cassini probe may find, but the uncertainty makes it all the more exciting.
The prospect of finding life on Enceladus is exciting. Given the presence of hydrothermal vents, water, organic materials such as carbon, Enceladus seems a promising place to discover life. If we do see that it is there, and are able to get a clue of what kinds of aliens live there, we may be able to observe the mechanisms and characteristics it possesses to live in such an environment. Focusing the Cassini probe on Enceladus may be able to satisfy such curiosities and give us new breakthroughs in the study of extraterrestrial life.
Further study of Enceladus’s plumes of water may be able to clear up mysteries about the unknown heat source and the possibility to extraterrestrial life there. Out of the three targets for Cassini, Enceladus seems the most conducive for a potential ecosystem.