This week’s fly-by will tell us whether or not Saturn’s moon Enceladus is likely to have alien life hidden beneath its surface in its underground ocean
Many experts would argue that Saturn’s moon Enceladus is the most likely location of alien life in our Solar System. Its icy appearance hides an enormous sub-surface ocean, which is thought to contain more water than the entirety of planet Earth.
An unmanned NASA spacecraft, Cassini, is about to dive deep into the icy spray emanating from Enceladus’s underground ocean, in the hope of finding clues as to what really lies beneath the moon’s surface.
Although Cassini is not equipped with the technology to confirm or deny the presence of life, it will be able to provide insight into the habitability of this extraterrestrial ocean. It will pass within 48 kilometres (30 miles) of Enceladus’s south polar region, measuring the plume’s composition to see which complex molecules are present, which will help identify the likelihood of alien life.
Cassini will be completing its fly-by on Wednesday at around 1.00pm EDT (17.00 GMT), and will check in with mission control a few hours later. Images from the fly-by should be released either Thursday or Friday.
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