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STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series

Searching for Life Around Saturn

Presented by: Jonathan Lunine  (Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, Cornell University)
Category: Science Colloquia   Duration: 2 hours   Broadcast date: March 06, 2015
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The Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn has discovered two places in the Saturn system where life may occur, and they each have very different things to teach us. The small moon Enceladus has jets of material that shoot water, salts, and organics into space, all measured by Cassini. With the indirect detection of a liquid water ocean beneath the surface, Enceladus may well host life and the jets provide a simple mechanism for detecting it. Titan, cold and devoid of liquid water on its surface, nonetheless has lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbons. To seek life there is to test whether water is essential for life or simply one of several alternative liquid solvents for hosting life. I will describe the next steps in exploring each of these environments.