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Enceladus is Spraying Its Salty Sea Out Into Space

Color-composite of Enceladus spraying into the E ring (NASA/JPL/SSI/Gordan Ugarkovic)

Color-composite of Enceladus spraying into the E ring in 2009 (NASA/JPL/SSI/Gordan Ugarkovic)

Thanks to Cassini we’ve known about the jets of icy brine spraying from the south pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus for about 8 years now, but this week it was revealed at the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference outside Houston, Texas that Enceladus’ jets very likely reach all the way down to the sea — a salty subsurface sea of liquid water that’s thought to lie beneath nearly 10 kilometers of ice.

“To touch the jets of Enceladus is to touch the most accessible salty, organic-rich, extraterrestrial body of water and, hence, habitable zone, in our solar system.”

– Cassini imaging team leader Carolyn Porco

Read the rest of this story here.

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Neil Armstrong Buried at Sea

Earlier today, Friday, September 14, 2012, Neil A. Armstrong’s burial at sea service was held aboard the USS Philippine Sea in the Atlantic. The first man to walk on the Moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong passed away on Saturday, August 25. He was 82.

An icon of exploration for all of humanity, he will be missed by millions and remembered forever. Godspeed, sir, and thank you.

See more photos from the service here.

Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Dragon Returns!

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule awaiting recovery in the Pacific on May 31, 2012. (SpaceX)

This morning, at 4:49 a.m. CDT, after 5 days, 16 hours and 5 minutes attached to the International Space Station, SpaceX’s Dragon craft was released and made its return to Earth. It splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 10:42 a.m. CDT, about 530 miles southwest of Los Angeles, off the coast of Baja California. Containing 1,367 lbs of cargo from the ISS, Dragon was picked up by a barge recovery ship operated by American Marine and, as of the time of this writing, is in good condition and is headed to the port of L.A.

It’s the culmination of a truly historic mission — the first time a privately-built and operated spacecraft has docked with the Space Station, it opened the path for many more such missions to come in a new era of commercial spaceflight partnerships with NASA. From launch to splashdown, the mission couldn’t have gone better!

“I almost feel like this was more success than we had a reasonable right to expect. I hope we can repeat it.”

— Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and CEO

Watch the release of Dragon from the ISS here.

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