NASA will soon announce new findings based on its research into ocean worlds in our solar system.
The compound that sustains life on Earth isn't unique to this planet. That understanding has caused countless scholars to explore finding water in various states on other planets -- furthering the possibility of water-needing life elsewhere. Our solar system has several ocean worlds, as well. Saturn has an ice-covered moon Enceladus. Jupiter's Europa also has a thick, icy shell.
At the heart of the announcement seems to be the Cassini spacecraft. The spacecraft will end its 20-year mission documenting Saturn's orbital plane in September. Cassini also managed to snap some incredible images of Saturn's moons, and it could be those moons that hold the new oceanic discovery.
The huge storm churning through the atmosphere in Saturn's northern hemisphere overtakes itself as it encircles the planet in this true-color view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
[Image Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI]
The Cassini mission
The Cassini mission revolutionized what scientists originally understood about Saturn. It's responsible for the new understanding that Saturn's largest moon -- Titan -- has the most Earth-like environment when compared with previously explored worlds. NASA predicts that Titan has a salty subsurface ocean, the astronomical equivalent of our Earth's Dead Sea. It's also been estimated that Titan's ocean is sandwiched between icy layers or could even extend all the way to the moon's core. As for Saturn's Enceladus, NASA predicts there exists a "regional reservoir" about 6 miles (10 km) deep under a thick shell of ice 20 to 25 miles (30 to 40 km) at the moon's south pole.
[Image Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech]
Cassini's information adds to an ever-growing body of research about ocean worlds.
The event will be streamed live on NASA Television and the NASA website starting at 2 p.m. EDT (Eastern Daylight Time, also known as EST, Eastern Standard Time).
NASA also notes they'll be discussing the Europa Clipper mission which is scheduled for launch sometime in the 2020s. The public is invited to tweet their questions at the panelists during the briefing using #AskNASA.
Keep in mind the last time NASA made a major announcement like this, they unveiled seven new exoplanets. Of those seven new planetary bodies, three were classified in a habitable zone.
To brush up on ocean worlds, check out NASA's primer on the subject here. You can even preview what Cassini's triumphant finale will look like when it slams into one of Saturn's icy moons.
Once again, the NASA briefing will happen at 2 p.m. EDT, and a live stream link can be found here.