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Beyond Earthly Skies

Ice Domes as Space Habitats

3 May 2013, 11:31 UTC
Ice Domes as Space Habitats
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Enceladus, planet Saturn’s brightest moon,sprints seven miles per second ‘round his captor -the massive puffed, yellow-buff gas balloonbut wobbles as if hooked by a one-clawed raptor.He whips past his sister moons, scarred Dioneand pocked Tethys in a frenzied orbital race.Saturn's affectionate attendant croniespull with a fly-by, gut-churning embrace.Ice-shelled Enceladus roils at the core; fissures and resurfaces his shining skin.From chasms, cryovolcanic geysers soarand paint the nebulous ice-crystal E ring.He's wrenched, twisted and warped - the treatment’s rough, but renders heat through internal commotion.Enceladus has all the fundamental stuffto foster life in an under-ice ocean.- Diane Hine, EnceladusFigure 1: This image was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn. Shown here is Titan together with the icy moon Dione. The bulk of Saturn fills the background. Here, Saturn’s rings are viewed nearly edge-on and the dark bands at the bottom are shadows cast by Saturn’s rings onto the planet’s cloud-tops. Saturn is also home to Enceladus - an icy moon with active geysers at its south pole. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, Space Science Institute.Creating large volumes of habitable space is a key requirement for manned exploration of the numerous and diverse worlds found throughout the solar system. On many of these ...

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