Organics in Space

New Organic Compounds Found in Enceladus Ice Grains

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Gretchen McCartney
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
gretchen.p.mccartney@jpl.nasa.gov

Alana Johnson
NASA Headquarters, Washington
alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

PIA09761_hires
In this image captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in 2007, the plumes of Enceladus are clearly visible. The moon is nearly in front of the Sun from Cassini’s viewpoint.Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

New kinds of organic compounds, the ingredients of amino acids, have been detected in the plumes bursting from Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The findings are the result of the ongoing deep dive into data from NASA’s Cassini mission.

Powerful hydrothermal vents eject material from Enceladus’ core, which mixes with water from the moon’s massive subsurface ocean before it is released into space as water vapor and ice grains. The newly discovered molecules, condensed onto the ice grains, were determined to be nitrogen- and oxygen-bearing compounds.

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Gretchen McCartney
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
gretchen.p.mccartney@jpl.nasa.gov

Alana Johnson
NASA Headquarters, Washington
alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

PIA09761_hires
In this image captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in 2007, the plumes of Enceladus are clearly visible. The moon is nearly in front of the Sun from Cassini’s viewpoint.Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

New kinds of organic compounds, the ingredients of amino acids, have been detected in the plumes bursting from Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The findings are the result of the ongoing deep dive into data from NASA’s Cassini mission.

Powerful hydrothermal vents eject material from Enceladus’ core, which mixes with water from the moon’s massive subsurface ocean before it is released into space as water vapor and ice grains. The newly discovered molecules, condensed onto the ice grains, were determined to be nitrogen- and oxygen-bearing compounds.

Read the rest of this entry »

Our Solar System and Beyond: NASA’s Search for Water and Habitable Planets

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NASA is exploring our solar system and beyond to understand the universe and our place in it, unraveling its mysteries and searching for life among the stars. Image Credit: NASA
 


(PRESS RELEASE – NASA): NASA Television will air an event from 1 – 2 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 7, featuring leading science and engineering experts discussing the recent discoveries of water and organics in our solar system, the role our sun plays in water-loss in neighboring planets, and our search for habitable worlds among the stars.

The event, which is open to the public, will take place in the Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW in Washington.

The panel also will highlight the fundamental questions NASA is working to answer through its cutting-edge science research: Where do we come from? Where are we going? Are we alone?

Panel participants include:

  • John Grunsfeld, astronaut and Science Mission Directorate associate administrator, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Ellen Stofan, chief scientist, NASA Headquarters
  • James Green, director of Planetary Science, NASA Headquarters
  • Jeffery Newmark, interim director of Heliophysics, NASA Headquarters
  • Paul Hertz, director of Astrophysics, NASA Headquarters

While members of the press can participate by phone, both the media and the public also may ask questions during the event via Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA.

For NASA TV streaming video, schedules and downlink information, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For more information about recent discoveries in our solar system and beyond, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov