Thirteen years ago, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft was orbiting Saturn, not through its first mission, when an unknown ultraviolet signal was spotted in a set of telescopes on board. The breathtaking data were recently inspected, however, and an international research team now suspects that this may indicate the presence of hydrazine on Saturn’s second largest moon, Rhea.
The effort, which includes scientists from the United Kingdom, Taiwan, India and the United States, used spectral data provided by UVIS, a telescope Behemoth that looked a bit like a refrigerator. (UVIS was a lot more technically complex than a fridge and was destroyed As with the rest of Cassini in 2017, when the craft fell into Saturn’s atmosphere.) The data Cassini collected, taken during Rhea’s flybys in 2007 and 2011, indicate an unknown spectroscopic signature emanating from the icy moon. is. In other words, Riya was absorbing some ultraviolet radiation, and the team was trying to figure out what the molecule was responsible for. Their conclusions are Published Today in the journal Science Advances.
“The possible detection of hydrangean monohydrate in the Saturnian system (Rhea) is important in that it may indicate the presence of ammonia within the ice layers of Saturn’s icy moons,” Mark Alovit, an astrophysicist and head of the Open University in the UK Said in an email, author of the paper. “Ammonia is important because it can suppress the freezing point of the water – ice mixture, raising the possibility that sub-oceans may exist inside some of Saturn’s icy satellites.”
Recent research efforts were borne out by Ellowitz’s dissertation, which also explored the reflection spectra of the moon’s dyno, one of Saturn’s 82-odd moons, although that analysis was recently published. Not included in the paper. It is worth noting that Cassini used hydrangea fuel to disperse it into space, meaning that it is possible that the spacecraft was detecting its own exhaust. The team does not think this has happened, however, the Rhea flybys were not powered by hydrangene thrusters, which were not firing at the time.
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Although hydrazine seems to be the most likely culprit for the absorption band, a Alternative explanation There is a cabale of chlorine-containing compounds. Hydrazine makes a little more sense than chlorine chemistry, because it is, more easily, chemically speaking, “that would require the presence of an inner ocean on the ria,” Allowitz said.
In either scenario, there is evidence that some serious organic chemistry is occurring in the outer solar system. Some astrologers believe that Saturn’s two moons, Enceladus And Titan, Possibly foreign life can also occur.
“The presence of hydrazine is an indication that the surface of icy satellites serves as chemical factories in forming complex molecules, particularly precursors of biomolecules that are essential for the origin of life”. Bhalamurugan Sivaraman is an astronomer at India’s Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad and co-author of the paper. In an email
Although the absorption band was detected on Rhea, the team is not sure whatever it is native to the moon. Titan around the bend, Saturn is the largest moon from afar and the only moon in our solar system with ample atmosphere. The team argues that if hydrangein was not produced by chemical reactions between ammonia and water-ice on Raima, it could exit Titan’s nitrogen-rich atmosphere and land on the small moon.
Olivia Harper Wilkins stated, “The idea that hydrazine could have been formed in Titan’s atmosphere before it was transferred to Rhea is a good reminder that individual objects and young stellar objects in planetary systems – not present in isolation. Are, “astrochemists at the California Institute of Technology, who were not involved in the new research, said in an email. “I look forward to seeing if NASA’s planned dragonfly mission will give us a better understanding of whether hydrangein can be generated on Titan, and if so, whether hydrangein (or other molecules) can be transported to Saturn’s other moons. Can. “
Indeed, upcoming missions are bound to deepen our understanding of the outer solar system. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until the 2030s for Dragonflu’s journey to Titan, which will give many answers to these questions and will certainly raise a lot of new ones.