An anonymous reader writes: NASA's Cassini probe has a daring mission tomorrow: dive through the water jets spraying from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus. The probe will be a mere 30 miles above the surface, traveling at a relative speed of 19,000 mph. Researchers hope to gain insight into the chemical composition of the jets. "[T]he plumes are more than just gas and water: samples show that they also contain many of the building blocks essential to Earth-like life. This lends itself to the exciting possibility that organisms similar to those that thrive in our own deep oceans near volcanic vents exuding carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide might exist on Eceladus." The molecules suspended among the water may tell us whether Enceladus's oceans are capable of harboring life. "The spacecraft's sensors will pick up gases in the plume searching for the presence of molecular hydrogen (H2). The amount of H2 found could reveal how much hydrothermal activity is occurring in the ocean."
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