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New Findings on Enceladus, Europa

14 Apr 2017, 14:50 UTC
New Findings on Enceladus, Europa
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Jim Green, who is director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA headquarters, clearly loves his job, and he got so excited during Thursday’s news conference that he kept interchanging Enceladus with Europa in his remarks. Both were in play during the discussion, and the context made it clear what he intended, but I always get a kick out of seeing that kind of enthusiasm showing forth in scientists and academics. It’s a reminder of why they got involved in the first place, and for that matter, what drew me into writing about the field myself.
The news delivered in the press conference and through two new papers involves two older space missions that are driving planning for yet a third, the Europa Clipper mission, a Jupiter orbiter that is still in the design and planning stages. And with Cassini in its final months of operation, it’s fitting that a Cassini flyby through the Enceladus plumes in 2015 should result in what Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker (JPL) called a ‘capstone finding.’ Hydrogen has turned up in the plumes, which turn out to be about 98 percent water vapor and 1 percent hydrogen, with a mix of carbon dioxide, methane ...

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