Origins Forum - Jonathan Lunine -Cornell University- Encounters with the Strange and the Familiar: Searching for Life in the Saturn System.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 4:00pm


Haller Hall (Room 102), Geological Museum, 24 Oxford Street

Encounters with the strange and the familiar: searching for Life in the Saturn System” . The Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn has discovered two places in the Saturn system where life may occur, and they each have very different things to teach us. The small moon Enceladus has jets of material that shoot water, salts, and organics into space, all measured by Cassini. With the indirect detection of a liquid water ocean beneath the surface, Enceladus may well host life and the jets provide a simple mechanism for detecting it. Titan, cold and devoid of liquid water on its surface, nonetheless has lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbons. To seek life there is to test whether water is essential for life or simply one of several alternative liquid solvents for hosting life.  I will describe ideas for exploring each of these environments.

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