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Saturn Moon Could Be Hospitable To Life

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 3 years ago | from the it's-life-but-not-as-we-know-it dept.

NASA 153

shmG writes to share that recent imagery from Saturn's moon Enceladus indicate that it may be hospitable to life. "NASA said on Tuesday that a flyby of planet's Enceladus moon showed small jets of water spewing from the southern hemisphere, while infrared mapping of the surface revealed temperatures warmer than previously expected. 'The huge amount of heat pouring out of the tiger stripe fractures may be enough to melt the ice underground,' said John Spencer, a composite infrared spectrometer team member based at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. 'Results like this make Enceladus one of the most exciting places we've found in the solar system.'"

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153 comments

Mmmmmmmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31266244)

I like enchiladas

Dane Cook? That You? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31266286)

I told you not to steal my jokes anymore, you hack.

Donate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31266744)

Where can we donate money to send all of the Democrats and Republicans to this moon?

Re:Donate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31267438)

And the Greeens shall inherit the Earth...

Re:Donate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31267932)

Until they try to tell the Libertarians not to burn fossil fuels, at which time they'll be beaten up and their lunch money stolen.

Re:Mmmmmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268796)

Why do you morons keep thinking that "Enceladus" sounds like "enchilada"? Pronunciation time, shall we?

Enceladus : en-sell-uh-dus
enchilada : en-cha-la-da

alright (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31266252)

so let's go take a fucking look already, goddamn.

Re:alright (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266364)

Well, while it's easy to say that, it's harder to back it up with flight cash, with research funding for the folks on earth who will plan, research and study the results and oh yeah, you are competing with how many other great ideas to go learn stuff about stuff we don't know about?

There are only so many spaceships that can go up at one time, and while the number is proportional to the funding that the space programs get, it's never going to allow for us to do everything we want.

If you feel very strongly about getting more and more study done, why not petition your local congressmen, ministers and elected officials to spend more on scientific research. Why not look at getting involved and offering your time as a volunteer to do some of the work that could potentially be done by non paid staff. Why not look at getting involved with your local university campus and gather support for a bipartisan effort with other universities to fund a study of something you feel passionate about?

Programmer? Why not offer to write some of the algorithms for them? Scientist? Why not put forward a proposal of what you want to study and why? Businessman? Why not actually offer some level of funding yourself towards a specific research goal? Knuckle-dragger? Why not offer to make make coffees, organize meetings for the others, be a PA to the staff and help out in the cafeteria to bring down costs?

Oh yeah, it's easier to just jump on here and throw out another internet meme.

Re:alright (5, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266646)

Ask not what the space program can do for you, but what you can do for the space program.

Re:alright (2, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267810)

Yeah how hard can it be, it's not rocket sc... oh wait.

Seriously, I'm all for a new Apollo program but we're talking about an area in which even the leading experts sometimes get it devastatingly wrong with catastrophic results. It's going to take more than a volunteer effort.

Re:alright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31267526)

Non paid staff ? Are you kidding me. Let me know where I can get involved. Every non-paid staff (auxiliary) I try to get into, first not many places are known to accept, second non paid is treated like dirt - as if, we have nothing to do and idiots. I am a programmer and love to spend some time for NASA, JPL etc. Where do I sign up ?

Why not fund it yourself? (0)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267830)

Rather than tax the middle class to pay for stuff you care about, but which does not really make a difference in peoples lives. Why don't you just gather in a room with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and fund your own space program?

Studying Saturn is a waste of money at this time even if there is life on Saturn's moon. We should focus on stuff which influences life one earth.

Re:Why not fund it yourself? (4, Insightful)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268148)

You realize what you're saying? That even if we found life on another planet, we should... ignore it? Also, "at this time"? Is there EVER a good time for long-term public projects? Also, if you think the fact that life truly does exist on other planets would not affect society, you're mistaken. If life really was discovered, it could galvanize space exploration and benefit science enormously. So which would you prefer... an over-crowded Earth that has to implement draconian population control measures to save space, or an Earth that is the centre of space exploration and is starting colonies on other worlds?

Re:Why not fund it yourself? (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268656)

Studying Saturn is a waste of money at this time even if there is life on Saturn's moon. We should focus on stuff which influences life one earth.

Yes, lets stop the space program and focus on real issues at home. Wait! Now there's about 100 thousand unemployed people laid off who directly or indirectly worked for the space program! That's much better than wasting time looking at Saturn,

Re:alright (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268382)

Keep in mind also that space science funding is about the appearance of science rather than the actual science. Currently, Cassini occupies the Saturn science niche. It may well stay viable through 2017 (according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ). That makes it difficult for any other Saturn mission to get funding. Also keep in mind that this is a lot like the planned Europa mission [wikipedia.org] except it would be a touch more difficult (longer travel time, greater distance from Earth, etc). My bet is that we won't see a Enceladus mission for decades (at least until the Europa mission ends, probably after 2027), unless space science changes fundamentally to a much more aggressive mode.

What do I mean by "more aggressive"? For example, suppose instead of building one Europa Jupiter System Mission, we built a bunch and launched them to a number of the ice moons of Jupiter and Saturn. There are perhaps one to two dozen interesting moons to chose from, depending on the performance constraints of the spacecraft and its launch system. If you can land a probe on Europa, it should be able to land probes on most of Saturn's moons. The delta-v of a moon around Saturn is not any worse than the delta-v of landing something on Europa, a fairly large satellite deep within Jupiter's gravity well.

So instead of a single probe which costs $4.5 billion to develop and deploy, we could spend somewhat more to get a number of vehicles (remember development costs only happen once and you get economies of scale when you make and launch a quantity of near identical spacecraft. Various bits of infrastructure, particularly plutonium 238 manufacture and the Deep Space Network, would probably need upgrading. You might need to improve launch infrastructure to handle multiple launches during a launch window. The thing though is that this is a way to vastly reduce the cost of a unit of space science even though you spend somewhat more in the end.

Re:alright (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268680)

remember development costs only happen once and you get economies of scale when you make and launch a quantity of near identical spacecraft

No. Economies of scale really only kick in to any significant value when you make more than 10 units. And only really kick in when you make more than 100.

All these space probes are hand built. Manufacture costs for two are still about twice the cost of one.

Thread hijacking, yeah! (1, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267388)

NASA article: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/media/cassini-20090624.html [nasa.gov]
picture: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/multimedia/pia06191.html [nasa.gov]
Video: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/flash/Enceladus/enceladus.html [nasa.gov] <-- no reading :-)

It'd be awesome to live on a saturn, especially if you have a view of Saturn (how large would it be on the sky?) ... would be pretty dark though, especially if the hot spot is on the south pole.

Btw. it was the Cassini spacecraft that made the flyby.

Everybody knows this (4, Funny)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266260)

Seriously, NASA. Anybody who's ever eaten at a bad Mexican restaurant knows enchiladas are hospitable to all forms of microscopic life.

Re:Everybody knows this (0, Offtopic)

bmk67 (971394) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266680)

Are you kidding? Bad mexican food is a perfect growth medium for microscopic life.

*Burp*

Re:Everybody knows this (4, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31266962)

True, but your only reference is Earth enchiladas. Theories on space enchiladas should be left to gastronomers.

Re:Everybody knows this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31267688)

That. was. awesome.

Not impressed (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266276)

The conditions on Enceladus are believed to be short lived. It hasn't been going on for billions of years so complex life forms can not have had time to evolve.

Life could come from elsewhere on comets, meteors, etc but the habitable places are deep inside the moon so they can't be colonized that way.

Re:Not impressed (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266298)

If there happen to be biological fragments floating around in space, they might land on Enceladus and take advantage of the short-term conditions.

Re:Not impressed (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266370)

If there happen to be biological fragments floating around in space, they might land on Enceladus and take advantage of the short-term conditions.

That was my second point. The surface is at 50 degrees K and is exposed to a lot of radiation. "Biological fragments floating around in space" would not find their way into the warm environment under ground.

Re:Not impressed (2, Informative)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267552)

"Biological fragments floating around in space" would not find their way into the warm environment under ground.

I don't think you have a grasp of the time scales we're talking about. We're talking about BILLIONS of years. The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old [usgs.gov] . While I don't know the age of Enceladus, I think it's safe to assume it's contemporaneous with the Earth. This means that's even incredibly improbable events may have indeed occurred.

Think about this: I don't think anyone knows for sure about where the initial organic compounds arrived on Earth, but organic compounds (i.e. molecules containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen) are exceedingly common throughout the universe, so let's say for sake of argument that the compounds on Earth, initially came from some place else. (Which in a sense they have to since, atoms heavier than hydrogen only form in stars). In the ensuing 4.5 BILLION years. It's improbable that these compounds would come together and form more complex compounds, but yet they have. These compounds in turn, formed more complex compounds, and so and so, until eventually we're here. We're talking a thousand monkeys typing on a thousand typewriters writing the greatest novel known to man. ("'It was the best of times. It was the blurst of times.' 'The BLURST of times'? You stupid monkey!") Given enough time, it WILL happen.

Now has it happened? I don't know. You don't know. No one knows. None of us will know until we send a probe with sensitive enough instruments down into one of those fissures. My point is, that you're thinking to small. Humans don't have an intuitive idea of the scale of the universe, either in size or time. We think still think 100 years is a long time, even though people live that long. We think a 2000 years is the distant past We only recorded the last 5000 years [wikipedia.org] . Let's go back further. As a species we're only 500,000 years old. That's .0000500 billion years. In other words, nothing. You're thinking too small.

Re:Not impressed (3, Funny)

cupantae (1304123) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266388)

There is indeed a family of microbes driving around the solar system in a car made out of an asteroid. The father microbe is wearing a stiff peaked cap and smoking a corn-cob pipe. They are going to settle on Enceladus for a brief spell. The daughter microbe is excited about the water, but the son would have preferred cable.

Sorry if that's difficult to understand at all, but that's the currently accepted theory.

Re:Not impressed (1)

geekd (14774) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266706)

But if one of the kids mouths off ONE MORE TIME, father microbe is turning that asteroid car right around, and they are. GOING. HOME.

Re:Not impressed (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266490)

The conditions on Enceladus are believed to be short lived. It hasn't been going on for billions of years so complex life forms can not have had time to evolve.

And... you wouldn't be impressed by simple life forms?

Okay, well, that's cool, but why you were paying any attention at all is beyond me. We're pretty sure there's no complex life anywhere else in the solar system.

Personally I'd be gobsmacked, flabbergasted, and impressed to all hell if we found even the most primitive of prokaryote.

Re:Not impressed (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266586)

Even if conditions inside Enceladus could support some of the bacteria we have now on Earth they would not allow it to evolve. Most of the theories about the evolution of very primitive life require high quality energy from impacts, lightening, etc. Enceladus doesn't have these things. It also takes time. Possibly 500 million years or more and Enceladus doesn't have that as well.

Re:Not impressed (4, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266682)

Possibly 500 million years or more and Enceladus doesn't have that as well.

Possibly. But we've found prokaryote fossils from only 1 billion years after the earth's crust formed. So either life got busy evolving right away, or it doesn't necessarily take that long. Frankly I would avoid drawing strong conclusions either way based on the current state of abiogenesis theories.

Besides, in the larger picture of "how often to potentially habitable environments arise and what forms do they take?" I find this very exciting even under the most likely case that we find no evidence of life on this moon. We've gone from a model of the solar system where every rock that wasn't ours being right-out as far as life having a chance, to having a variety of environments that at least hypothetically could support it. Then I start thinking about our infant search for exoplanets and I get even more excited.

Re:Not impressed (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31266808)

Add to that the fact that there is an obvious heat (energy) source there. Black Smokers [wikipedia.org] also produce thermal energy, and chemical energy. We know they can support entire ecosystems thousands of feat under water.

Re:Not impressed (4, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31266914)

I'm unimpressed by your arguments and see no reason for your pessimisim. One of the best theories we have of abiogenisis is that it formed around undersea volcanic vents. Since the tidal forces of Staurn are heating the moon from the inside causing similar vents to appear on the surface it safe to say that Earth like vents are occuring in the rocky core of the moon. Abiogenisis in 10 minutes [youtube.com] - "No rediculous improbability, no supernatural forces, no lightening striking a mud puddle. Just Chemistry!"

Re:Not impressed (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267522)

I just want to point out that Enceladus can't have undersea volcanic vents like ours because it is a lump of ice a few hundred kilometers across. It may well have some rock deep down but there won't be enough for it to be liquid and to have volcanos. To have volcanos you need a deep mantle of hot rock.

You can have cryovolcanos but we don't have evidence of life forming there.

Re:Not impressed (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268404)

I just want to point out that Enceladus can't have undersea volcanic vents like ours because it is a lump of ice a few hundred kilometers across. It may well have some rock deep down but there won't be enough for it to be liquid and to have volcanos. To have volcanos you need a deep mantle of hot rock.

Quite true. There's a good chance however that it has hydrothermal activity, which is really what "volcanic vents" are.

Re:Not impressed (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268458)

I think my disquiet with the idea of life on Enceladus involves the fact that while there might be a lot of heat on Enceladus there is very little concentrated, high quality heat. Volcanos, impacts and solar energy on Earth create pockets of highly concentrated energy which can act as incubators. These can't exist in the interior of Enceladus. Impacts may raise the temperature of the surface but the environments they create will be short lived.

Re:Not impressed (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268640)

As expalianed in the video the source of heat is irrelevant, the convection currents that cycle the lipids through hot and cold are what counts. There is no evidence to suggest Enceladus is entirely made of pure water, it's likely to have a small rocky center where the friction of rocks moving under tidal forces produce enough heat to melt the interior ice and cause the observed eruptions on the surface.

Where ever we have looked for life living in "impossible" environments on earth we have found it. 2km into the earth's crust, sulphuric acid lakes, reactor cores, ect, ect. I'm not claiming there is life on Enceladus, simply that it's one of the best targets to look for it. I don't understand why you are going out of your way to rationalise your desire to ignore such an interesting target.

Re:Not impressed (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268724)

The heat on Enceladus comes from the massive gravitational effect of Saturn which is constantly twisting the planet and generating interior core heat.

Re:Not impressed (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268712)

It also takes time. Possibly 500 million years or more and Enceladus doesn't have that as well.

What are you talking about? Life here on Earth has only been around for 8000 years. Of course only non-intelligent life actually believes that.

Re:Not impressed (2, Interesting)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267038)

Amen. The possibility of extraterrestrial life is easily the most interesting thing there is. We might get more energy from nuclear engineering or more food from genetic engineering or longer life from medical sciences, but this is like the gold of the scientific world: it is intrinsically valuable. Even if nothing useful comes out of it, answering the question of whether or not there is anything on those moons would be worth it. The simplest of life living on another world would be phenomenal (even if it turns out that life originated on Earth, although native would be much more fascinating), or even just fossil evidence that there once was something, and even if we come up with nothing, just knowing more about the surfaces of other worlds is simply wonderful. Why we're not funding projects to prepare for trips to Enceladus or Titan or Europa is beyond me.

Re:Not impressed (-1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267088)

Personally I'd be gobsmacked, flabbergasted, and impressed to all hell if we found even the most primitive of prokaryote.

Yeah, because the likeliness of life on another planet evolving exactly like on ours, in practically zero.
Despite certain (pseudo-)“scientists” (with arrogance and limited imagination) being unable to think otherwise.

I bet $100 that we won’t even recognize the first extraterrestrial life we’ll ever see.
And I bet another $50 that we will even damage or kill some of them, e.g. by standing right on them, while searching for “life” in a drop of water right next to it... and giving up.

Or, as xkcd said it: http://xkcd.com/638/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Not impressed (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267446)

Yeah, because the likeliness of life on another planet evolving exactly like on ours, in practically zero.

It wouldn't have to be exactly like ours to be able to be roughly describes as prokaryotic. [wikipedia.org] It's an obvious stage for any biological life to go through. But really I was just saying "prokaryote" as an example of simple life.

Despite certain (pseudo-)"scientists" (with arrogance and limited imagination) being unable to think otherwise.

Uh it's not that they're unable to think otherwise. It's that if you're going to look for life, it only makes sense to look for the kind of life that you know is possible and can identify. And the "kind" is simply self-organizing organic (meaning hydrocarbon based) molecules. Which chemistry strongly suggests requires liquid water. It's not really that specific, but based on what we know can work in broadest terms. It's pragmatism, not limited imagination.

You can say "It might not be organic, it could be like something we've never even imagined!" Which is hypothetically true, but useless on its own. So go ahead, Mr. Non-pseudo-non-quotes-scientist, actually propose something we can look for, some testable hypothesis.

Yeah.

I bet $100 that we won't even recognize the first extraterrestrial life we'll ever see.

I'm curious how you would be able to call that bet. :)

But you know you may be right. For all the good that statement does us.

Or, as xkcd said it: http://xkcd.com/638/ [xkcd.com]

You get that the point of the comic is about prematurely assuming your search is over, which is completely the opposite of what we're doing, right? So take heart. The search goes on, and we're using every tool we know of to do so, and looking for new tools as well.

Re:Not impressed (2, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268540)

you have me thinking of ways life could exist. and if we'd "see" it right away.

chemical life uses information storage in patterns of atoms, and has to assemble parts of itself. Not too many atoms can form chains: carbon, phosphorous, silicon, and sulphur. I think we would recognize any life made of any of those.

how about electronic life? we know electricity can effect certain types of crystal growth, how about an electro-chemical beast that is something like self-modifying circuitry with switching elements and substrate that can be grown or re-absorbed based on current ebb and flow. Detectable, but yeah could be standing on it before detecting it.

Re:Not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268160)

Don't be surprised, nothing impresses an idiot. They don't understand anything, and there's just no way an idiot like GP poster MichaelSmith will get impressed by things he can't possibly understand.

Re:Not impressed (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266604)

It hasn't been going on for billions of years so complex life forms can not have had time to evolve.

The graphic on this wiki page [wikipedia.org] suggests that life on earth arose 1.5 billion years after the earth was formed, nearly two billion years went by before multicellular life, and then another billion years before cnidarians, which developmentally are reasonably close to us and certainly what I would consider complex, were around. I don't know much about that, and I doubt anyone knows for sure what was going on in that time, but I don't see any evidence to suggest that a ~4 billion lag time from when your planet/moon is around to when complex life forms is a -universal- constant. There's nothing to say it couldn't happen much much faster on Enceladus, we only have one example of life arising, it would be a mistake to assume that is the constant or even typical rate of life arising. The cambrian explosion is certainly evidence that the rate changes wildly. Furthermore, we haven't even -seen- this environment, the only thing we know about it is that it's possible and it isn't like earth, so if we should expect anything, its that the timeline for life arising on Enceladus would be significantly different from Earth's.

Re:Not impressed (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266684)

There's nothing to say it couldn't happen much much faster on Enceladus

Overall there is less energy and less space on Enceladus so I predict that evolution will happen slower there.

Re:Not impressed (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267314)

More likely that would cause evolution to happen faster there since there would be much more competition for resources. Survival is what drives evolution.

Re:Not impressed (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268520)

More likely that would cause evolution to happen faster there since there would be much more competition for resources. Survival is what drives evolution.

Except it doesn't work that way. The ocean is a far more hospitable environment for life than anywhere on land, and we see a much greater variety of aquatic life than terrestrial. On land, tropical rainforests are probably about the most hospitable environments for life there is -- and surprise, we see much more variety there than we do in cooler and drier areas.

Competition for resources happens everywhere; whatever the resources available, the creatures living there will reproduce until they reach the limit of a sustainable population. It's the availability of resources that drives species diversity.

Re:Not impressed (3, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31266978)

I believe that current work suggests evidence of life arising withing the first few hundred million years of Earth's existence, not long after life could exist at all. (Prior to a certain point, sterilizing impacts were too frequent to let anything get far.) Probably half a billion years to no more than 1 billion years after the Earth formed we've found evidence of life. (Evidence gets to be isotopic beyond a certain point, but still.)

Re:Not impressed (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267056)

The conditions on Enceladus are believed to be short lived.

Where are you getting that from? Why would its tidal force heating have been less in the past?

Re:Not impressed (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267494)

The conditions on Enceladus are believed to be short lived.

Where are you getting that from? Why would its tidal force heating have been less in the past?

There have been many articles which try to explain the gap in the known energy input from tidal heating and the known energy output of the plumes. This PDF [mit.edu] suggests that we are now seeing energy released from a recent period when the orbital eccentricity was higher and the moon absorbed more heat. The upshot seems to be that current conditions are temporary and can't be used to model the entire history of the moon.

Re:Not impressed (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268256)

I've seen one article which said that it can all be explained simply by the asymmetry of the heating -- that is, there's not enough heating for the entire interior of Enceladus to be liquid, but there is for a portion of it to be liquid, so long as there was a mechanism to concentrate it to one side -- which is what we see (and they postulated one method, although I forget what it was).
 

Obligatory 2010 Quote (3, Funny)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266288)

All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there.

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (3, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266390)

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. And Enceladus. And maybe TITAN, we haven't decided on that yet. BUT THE OTHERS, YEAH, ALL YOURS.
You know, on second thought, ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS ANYWHERE BEFORE CHECKING WITH US. KTHXBYE

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

Apparently, slashdot feels like telling the omnipotent mysterious monolith what to do. Bad idea...

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (2, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266688)

Apparently, slashdot feels like telling the omnipotent mysterious monolith what to do. Bad idea...

(spoilers for 3001, although its been a while and I have a bad memory so maybe not...)

Not really, the monoliths were destroyed by a computer virus in 3001 if I recall, so I'm sure slashdot could come up with enough goatse trolls, rickrolls, kdawson stories, overrated moderations etc to annoy the monoliths into leaving, if not blowing up.

I'll get things started

I, for one, welcome our monolithic, slashdot browsing, beowulf cluster running overlords.

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (1)

notjustchalk (1743368) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266422)

I always thought this was one of the sillier endings in a book/movie (one that I otherwise enjoyed, mind you). Why would a proto-omniscient intelligence target attention to the one place it didn't want it? However, it certainly seems to be one of the more enduring tropes in fiction - e.g. Pandora's Box, the apple tree of Eden, etc.

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266500)

The warning was sent out because once Lucifer/Jupiter calmed down into semi-stability, Europa would very obviously have an atmosphere, and the first things humans (which in Clarke's universe, actually travel further than orbit) would do is land there.

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266698)

I haven't read it in 20+ years, but in the book, didn't the Chinese attempt a landing, with resultant Really Bad Stuff?

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31266774)

The Chinese attempted a landing before the warning- and before the conversion of Jupiter into a star. Really bad stuff did occur, because their landing attracted the native life of Europa. The reason the monolith ignited Jupiter at the story's end was in large part to give that native life a more hospitable enviroment for development by thawing the Europan ice.

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31266828)

It's been a while since I've read the book as well, but IIRC, the Chinese received a warning shot across the bow before the Really Bad Stuff occurred.

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (2, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267524)

It's been a while since I've read the book as well, but IIRC, the Chinese received a warning shot across the bow before the Really Bad Stuff occurred.

No, they definitely did not (I've just started 3001, so this is fairly fresh).

*SPOILER ALERT*

As the joint US-Russian vessel Leonov was en route to rendezvous with Discovery, they got reports that China had secretly sent off their own mission to the Jupiter system, presumably to beat the US to the derelict vessel. The only problem was that it seemed to be a suicide mission, as there was no clear way they could return. Later, as Leonov approached Jupiter, they witnessed China complete their slingshot maneuver around Jupiter, and they assumed the point was to enter a trajectory to meet up with Discovery. However, it soon became clear that they actually aimed for Europa. At this point, the Leonov crew they realized that China's plan was actually to land on Europa and use it as a source of propellant, at which point they'd be able to explore the Jupiter system, including Discovery, and then return to earth.

Eventually China did land safely on Europa, and it seemed all was well. Unfortunately, the flood lights they used to illuminate the area around their ship attracted an undersea life form that resembled some sort of plant life. This life form pursued the Chinese vessel and destroyed it, leaving just one survivor who was able to radio back to Leonov to report the event before he died.

So at this stage it was clear that there was life on Europa, but that it was fairly primitive. At the end of 2010, the monolith replicated itself, surrounding Jupiter and forcing an implosion, which ignited Jupiter forming the star Lucifer, with the goal of creating an environment on Europa that would be conducive to the development of higher life forms. And just prior to the implosion, David Bowman instructed the now-reactivated Hal to send the famous message to Earth: "All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there." Hal was then "extracted" from the computer prior to the ship being destroyed, and he joined Bowman to wait until they were needed again.

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#31266848)

Yes, the Chinese did land there. They landed near a crack in the ice and drilled through. A plant colony came up through the hole in the ice, and made its way across the ice to the spaceship (being the hottest/brightest thing on the surface). It managed to get to the ship and pull it down. The Chinese were thus stranded. One of them survived the destruction of the ship and transmitted the message via his suit radio.

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31266796)

You're saying Lucifer is the same as Jupiter??? And you haven't gotten a lightning bolt shoved up your ass yet??? GREEK MOTHERFUCKER, DO YOU SPEAK IT???

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (1)

silentsteel (1116795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31266986)

Actually, Jupiter is a Roman god, thus the name Jupiter is the English transliteration of the Latin name. Lucifer is the English transliteration of the Latin name for Satan. Zeus would be Greek. Therefore, depending upon one's perspective, Jupiter=Lucifer.

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267220)

Historically, Lucifer is Venus, the Morning Star/Evening Star/Daystar (although in modern times, "daystar" has come to mean the sun). We get the word Lucifer from the vulgate where it's a literal translation of Light-Bringer -- Lux + Ferre. Isaiah uses Venus as an analogy for the fall of the king of Babylon. However, because the imagery he used was similar to that of the apocryphal story of the fall of Satan, early Christians confused the two.

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (2, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267008)

You're saying Lucifer is the same as Jupiter??? And you haven't gotten a lightning bolt shoved up your ass yet??? GREEK MOTHERFUCKER, DO YOU SPEAK IT???

Jupiter the planet was renamed Lucifer (lightbearer) when it became a star. 2010: ODYSSEY TWO, DO YOU READ IT???

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (2, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266674)

Just my interpretation, but I believe that the proto-omniscient intelligence assumed that whether or not humans let their curiosity get the better of them was irrelevant since it could easily stop any attempt at landing. The implied end of the monolith's message was really "ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE. UNDERSTAND THAT IT WOULD BE NO PROBLEM AT ALL TO THWART YOUR PITIFUL EFFORTS. NOTICE THAT JUPITER IS NOW A STAR? YEAH."

And according to "2061: Odyssey Three," all attempts to send robotic probes failed when they got close- it wasn't just an idle warning; a monolith stuck around on Europa in order to protect it from interference. So while the other Galilean moons were colonized soon after Jupiter was ignited, humanity really did stay off the surface. Until a gigantic diamond hit Europa, anyway.

Re:Obligatory 2010 Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268028)

The monolith was somewhat intelligent. When that ship was crashed onto Europa in 2061 it didn't interfere with the attempt to rescue the crew and passengers, though the events in 3001 imply that Hal/Bowman had something to do with that.

well.... (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266296)

if we were never sure that it couldn't "be hospitable to life", then nothing has changed.

Re:well.... (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266538)

Umm... Huh?

Something changed all right. Our knowledge of conditions on Enceledus went from basically zilch to what you're reading about today thanks to the Casini probe.

We weren't "sure" that it couldn't be hospitable to life because we didn't know very much about it, but for things that far away from the sun more or less the default estimation of habitability is "not likely".

Sailor Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31266308)

Is it wrong that I first read "Saturn Moon" as "Sailor Moon"?

Re:Sailor Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31266360)

No, that's perfectly normal.

Re:Sailor Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31266414)

Depends. Did you picture the moon naked?

Nothing new (2, Informative)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266372)

I've heard about this over a year ago, at a minimum.

Same goes with Jupiter's moon Europa ( http://www.solarviews.com/eng/europa.htm [solarviews.com] ). Signs are that it could have liquid water inside, as quoted from the site: "Since liquid water existed in the past, could life have formed and even exist today? The primary ingredients for life are water, heat, and organic compounds obtained from comets and meteorites. Europa has had all three. From the images and data collected by the Galileo spacecraft, scientists believe that a subsurface ocean existed in relative recent history and may still be present beneath the icy surface. Europa's water should have frozen long ago, but warming could be occurring due to the tidal tug of war with Jupiter and neighboring moons."

Same site mentions that the water has been spotted spewing forth from Enceladus in July 14, 2005, being also noted as a "dramatic warm spot centered on the pole that is probably a sign of internal heat leaking out of the icy moon" ( http://www.solarviews.com/eng/enceladus.htm [solarviews.com] )

New stuff (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267194)

Yeah, it's only showing up again because Cassini made another Enceladus flyby in late 09 and they're just releasing the pictures.

This JPL article [nasa.gov] gives a better idea of what was new this flyby.

A new map that combines heat data with visible-light images shows a 40-kilometer (25-mile) segment of the longest tiger stripe, known as Baghdad Sulcus. The map illustrates the correlation, at the highest resolution yet seen, between the geologically youthful surface fractures and the anomalously warm temperatures that have been recorded in the south polar region. The broad swaths of heat previously detected by the infrared spectrometer appear to be confined to a narrow, intense region no more than a kilometer (half a mile) wide along the fracture.

So basically, higher resolution images have allowed them to isolate the heat that they detected earlier (from the 2005 flyby) as a "broad swath" to specifically the cracks in the surface from which water is spewing, confirming their previous hypothesis.

Besides planet Earth (1)

Maeric (636941) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266524)

Results like this make Enceladus one of the most exciting places we've found in the solar system.

... besides planet Earth.

Re:Besides planet Earth (1)

beefnog (718146) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266554)

Results like this make Enceladus one of the most exciting places we've found in the solar system.

... besides planet Earth.

What you already have rarely stays exciting. This is why affairs happen.

Re:Besides planet Earth (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266612)

If your spouse were inhabited by 6 billion balding apes making kalashnikovs, mud bricks, and bad sitcoms, you'd stray too...

Re:Besides planet Earth (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31266854)

What you already have rarely stays exciting. This is why affairs happen.

Then you have no imagination ;)

Re:Besides planet Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31267022)

No-one found planet Earth, it was there when we got here.

Stop misusing that thatsnomoon tag! (4, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266626)

WTF. This is a moon! Use it for huge stuff that aren't what they seem, but not for actual moons!

OK, I'm done. ;)

chanes of life on other worlds (1)

troylanes (883822) | more than 3 years ago | (#31266654)

If habitable worlds, for life as we know it, are more common than once though in our own solar system, does this necessarily imply that other solar systems are more likely to contain such worlds? Or, perhaps, is our solar system somewhat unique in this aspect?

Keep repeating that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31266736)

Maybe Paris Hilton goes there!

A big relief! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31266856)

I was beginning to think my Enceladus beach front property might be worthless. I guess for once those spam offers weren't a rip off.

Oh, shit! (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31266864)

You mean that Arthur C. Clarke screwed up, and it's Enceladus, not Europa, that we're not supposed to land on?!? Damn!

Habitable? (1, Interesting)

physburn (1095481) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267068)

By Habitable they mean habitable by some life forms. A claim made for any place that happens to have liquid water in it. Since Enceladus has occasion steam, water jet out pooring doesn't mean it has a steady warm inner ocean, like titan is thought to have. I just read on Scientific American the latest results on the surface and interior of Titan. Titan has very good conditions for life, and since its so close to Enceladus, and the whole saturn system, is so full with minor particles, its easy to imagine life starting in Titans ocean, and getting carried to Enceladus. I'm not expecting anything much bigger than a microbe though.

---

Exobiology [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

Re:Habitable? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268218)

A claim made for any place that happens to have liquid water in it.

No, it's a claim made about places with liquid water, necessary materials (CHON elements, mainly), and an energy source of putative life to exploit. Liquid water just tends to be the toughest of those requirements to meet.

Since Enceladus has occasion steam, water jet out pooring doesn't mean it has a steady warm inner ocean

First, the jets are "occasional". They've been on as long as we've looked with Cassini and evidence suggests they've operated for a while. Second, no one is claiming a liquid ocean. In fact, I'm almost certain that's been ruled out for quite a while. What's being suggested is a small reservoir of liquid water just below the south pole.

(Also, it's not technically "steam" coming out. Steam in invisible water gas. These are visible water droplets and ice particles.)

like titan is thought to have.

There's evidence suggesting that there may be liquid 100 km below the surface, but it's hard to read that. In any case, water buried that deep probably inaccessible for spreading itself outside of Titan. How would you get it out?

Obligatory StarTrek quote (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267198)

It's life Jim but not as we know it, not as we know it! For one thing, these guys are living in a giant ice chest, so they are never at a loss for a place to keep their beer cold!

2010 (1)

pengin9 (1595865) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267252)

2010... the year we find life is possible on saturns? moons. wait wait wait I thought Dave lived on Jupiter.

OMG (2, Funny)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 4 years ago | (#31267354)

I for one believe we already have enough hospitals. Building them on Saturn would bring no new inherent value.

Habitable? But are they hiring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31267650)

Do they have any job openings?

NASA is searching for life... (1)

SystemFault (876435) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268074)

NASA is searching for life in Congress for support of a planetary science budget, so these announcements must be taken with a big dose of sodium chloride.

Back in 1976, NASA flew the twin Viking missions to Mars, each with its own orbiter and stationary lander. All were quite successful. But at what a cost: something close to a cool billion dollars back then; that would be maybe four or five billion today. And there was another cost. To get support for the mission, NASA had to drum up expectations of finding some positive result from the life detection experiments on board and so these experiments took up most of the scientific payload at the expense of the more usual array of geophysical instruments. No life signs were found, the popular press declared a failure, and serious funding for Mars exploration dried up for nearly twenty years.

The more recent NASA probes including Pathfinder, Odyssey, Phoenix, and the twin rovers have all done extremely well and have in total produced far, far more science per dollar than did Viking. These probes have done so in part because the emphasis wasn't on life detection -- iffy at best -- but on good old geology and chemistry experiments that were guaranteed to produce lots of valuable knowledge no matter what.

Could NASA be setting itself up for another Viking-like episode with tales of possible life on Europa and Enceladus? Could life-detection instruments once again shove aside less exciting but more productive geophysical experiments? Since Congress is inhabited mostly by the scientifically illiterate, you can guess how I'll bet.

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