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The original goal of Cassini-Huygens was to study Saturn and its large, misty, tortured, moon Titan. Titan, the second-largest moon in our Solar System, after Ganymede of Jupiter, is a world long-shrouded in mystery, hiding behind a thick orange veil, and slashed with hydrocarbon lakes and seas. However, there are other enticing moons known to circle the ringed planet. Saturn's mid-sized icy moons (Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Rhea, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Phoebe) are enchanting worlds. Each one of these frozen little moons reveals an interesting and unique geology. So far, Saturn is known to sport 62 icy moons!
Galilean Moons Of Jupiter. One dark, clear January night in 1610, Galileo Galilei climbed to the roof of his house in Padua. He looked up at the sky that was speckled with the flickering fires of a multitude of starry objects, and then aimed his small, primitive "spyglass"--which was really one of the first telescopes--up at that star-blasted sky above his home. Over the course of several such starlit, clear winter nights, Galileo discovered the four large Galilean moons that circle around the largest planet in our Sun's family, the enormous, gaseous world, Jupiter. This intriguing quartet of moons--Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto--were named for four of the numerous mythic lovers of the King of the Roman gods.
The very productive Cassini mission might attain some indirect information by analyzing the ring arc material--however, it is unlikely to come close to the little moon again before the mission ends in 2017.
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The Earth is one of nine planets that form the Solar System, so called because the sun, the source of solar energy, is the central point around which all the planets revolve. So far, scientists have not been able to establish or prove the existence of life forms on any other planet within the solar system. Often, the search for other life forms has focused on looking at the climatic conditions of the celestial body in question. Scientists assume that life forms on a different planet would need similar conditions as life on earth, such as oxygen, light and water, to grow. This may or may not be true.
But what truly makes Enceladus so remarkable is that its habitable zone can be observed with relative ease by astronomers. Dr. Porco told the press on March 27, 2012 that "It's erupting out into space where we can sample it. It sounds crazy but it could be snowing microbes on the surface of this little world. In the end, it's the most promising place I know of for an astrobiology search. We don't even need to go scratching around on the surface. We can fly through the plume and sample it. Or we can land on the surface, look up and stick our tongues out. And voila... we have what we came for."
Ganymede is the largest moon in our Solar System. Indeed, its impressive diameter of nearly 3,280 miles makes it almost as big as Mars! Astronomers have known since the 1990s that this frigidly cold moon, that circles around the gas-giant planet Jupiter, contains a hidden salty subsurface ocean of liquid water, sloshing around deep beneath its secretive shell of ice. However, in May 2014, planetary scientists announced that the situation may be somewhat more complicated--Ganymede's ocean might be organized like a multi-tiered sandwich, with ice and oceans stacked up in several layers, according to new NASA-funded research that models this enormous moon's composition.