Mars Curiosity Launch Date mars rover assembly complete ahead of 2020 launch date Mars Curiosity Date Launch

Mars Curiosity Launch Date mars rover assembly complete ahead of 2020 launch date Mars Curiosity Date Launch
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Mars Curiosity Launch Date

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Dr. Carolyn Porco, a planetary scientist and leader of the Imaging Science team for Cassini, explained to the press in March 2012 that "More than 90 jets of all sizes near Enceladus's south pole are spraying water vapor, icy particles, and organic compounds all over the place. Cassini has flown several times now through this spray and has tasted it. And we have found that aside from water and organic material, there is salt in the icy particles. The salinity is the same as that of Earth's oceans."



There are over 100 moons dancing around the eight major planets of our Sun's family. Most of them are small, frozen, icy objects, harboring only a relatively scanty amount of rocky material, that circle around the quartet of giant gaseous planets that dwell in the outer, frigid realm of our Solar System--far from the comforting warmth and brilliance of our Star. The quartet of majestic, giant denizens of our outer Solar System--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--are enveloped with gaseous atmospheres, and orbited by a multitude of dancing, sparkling moons and moonlets. In marked contrast, the inner region of our Solar System--where our Earth dwells--is almost bereft of moons. Of the quartet of relatively petite, rocky "terrestrial" planets--Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars--only Earth is circled by a large Moon. Mercury and Venus are moonless, and Mars is orbited by a duo of tiny, lumpy, potato-shaped moons, Phobos and Deimos. Phobos and Deimos are probably escaped asteroids, born in the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, that were captured by the gravitational embrace of the Red Planet long ago.



Ganymede, and four other moons dwelling in our Sun's family, possess liquid water beneath their frigid crusts of ice. The others are Saturn's moons, Titan and Enceladus, and two other Galilean moons of Jupiter--Europa and Callisto. Planetary scientists think the oceans of Europa and Enceladus are in contact with rock--thus making these two moons high-priority targets for future astrobiology missions.

The moon's orbit. The moon's orbit is not on the same plane as the earth's orbit around the sun. If it were, every time we had a new moon we would have a solar eclipse, and every time we had a full moon we would have a lunar eclipse. Instead, the moon travels in a track that goes well above and well below the earth. Still, on occasion it will travel in between the sun and the earth and in this case, there will be an eclipse.



The fact that Enceladus becomes so extremely distorted suggests that it contains quite a bit of water. A watery moon would, of course, be a flexible one. Therefore, for Enceladus to be as flexible as it apparently is, it must hold either an enormous local ocean or one that is global. Parts of that immense ocean may be pleasantly warm--but other portions might be quite hot.



The clear indications that Enceladus possesses liquid water, and perhaps life, catapulted the tiny moon into the same mighty league as its sister moons, Europa of Jupiter and Titan of Saturn, as a world that could potentially harbor precious living tidbits.

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