Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability

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Enceladus's south pole - Geysers spray water from many locations along the 'tiger stripes' feature.
Artist's impression of possible hydrothermal activity on Enceladus.

Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability (ELSAH) is an astrobiology concept mission proposed in 2017 to NASA's New Frontiers program to send a spacecraft to Enceladus to search for biosignatures and assess its habitability.[1][2] The Principal Investigator is Christopher P. McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center,[3] and the managing NASA center is Goddard Space Flight Center. No details of the mission have been made public, but observers speculate that it would be a plume-sampling orbiter mission.[4]

The two finalists, announced on 20 December 2017, are Dragonfly to Titan, and CAESAR (Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return) which is a sample-return mission from comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.[5]

Although ELSAH was not selected for launch in this instance, it received technology development funds to prepare it for future mission competitions.[6] The funds are meant to develop techniques that limit spacecraft contamination and thereby enable life detection measurements on cost-capped missions.[6]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ "Proposed New Frontiers Missions". Future Planetary Exploration. 4 August 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  2. ^ McIntyre, Ocean (17 September 2017). "Cassini: The legend and legacy of one of NASA's most prolific missions". Spaceflight Insider. Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  3. ^ Chang, Kenneth (15 September 2017). "Back to Saturn? Five Missions Proposed to Follow Cassini". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-11-03. 
  4. ^ Back to Saturn? NASA Eyes Possible Return Mission as Cassini Ends. Mike Wall. Space. 17 September 2017.
  5. ^ NASA's New Frontier Mission Will Search For Alien Life Or Reveal The Solar System's History. Elana Glowatz, IB Times. 20 December 2017.
  6. ^ a b NASA Invests in Concept Development for Missions to Comet, Saturn Moon Titan. NASA News. 20 December 2017.