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Enceladus UPSC NOTE

 Why in News

  • Molecules including methanol, ethane, and oxygen are present in gaseous plumes emitted from Saturn’s moon Enceladus, a re-analysis of data from the Cassini mission suggests. 

  • The Cassini spacecraft first discovered large plumes of material escaping into space from Enceladus’s southern hemisphere in 2005

  • These plumes appear to be coming from a subsurface ocean through fissures in the moon’s icy surface

  • Analyses of data from Cassini’s Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) collected during flybys in 2011 and 2012 determined the presence

of water, carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, and molecular hydrogen in the samples.

What is Enceladus

  • Enceladus is the sixth-largest moon of Saturn and one of the most intriguing celestial bodies in our solar system. 

  • It's a small, icy moon, only about 500 kilometers in diameter, which is roughly one-tenth the size of Earth's moon. 

  • Despite its diminutive size, Enceladus packs a big punch when it comes to scientific interest.

  • The discovery of Enceladus's hidden ocean and active geysers has revolutionized our

understanding of moons and the potential for life beyond Earth. 

  • It has become a prime target for future space missions, with NASA's Europa Clipper mission scheduled to launch in 2024 to further explore this fascinating moon and its potential to harbor life.

  • It orbits Saturn at a distance of about 238,000 kilometers.

  • Its surface is marked by a network of bright white fractures called "tiger stripes," which are thought to be caused by the flexing of the moon's icy crust as it interacts with Saturn's gravity.

  • Enceladus is named after a giant from Greek mythology, a son of the Titan Cronus.


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