Since its launch in 1997, the Cassini spacecraft has spent 20 years in space exploration of Saturn. The mission scientists from NASA have learned a great deal during the craft’s 22 orbits of the planet and its rings and moons, and all of that information has been beamed back to them.
A research paper could examine the many aspects of what has been learned from our study of outer space so far and what the future of space exploration holds.
Potential for life in outer space
One of the crucial things that NASA scientists have learned from the Cassini spacecraft and its space exploration of Saturn is that one of the planet’s moons, Enceladus, appears to contain large amounts of hydrogen. Cassini reported back from that moon, which is all ocean covered in ice with plumes of gas erupting from beneath the ice. The gas plumes are believed to be very similar to hydrothermal vents found on earth.
“Plumes From Saturn’s Moon Enceladus Hint That It Could Support Life” by Kenneth Chang for The New York Times on April 13, 2017, reported, “On Earth at least, hydrothermal vents thrive with microbial life, offering up the potential that icy moons far from Earth — called “ocean worlds” by NASA — could be habitable.” A research paper could offer an explanation and analysis of how microbial life is supported by this environment on earth and what this could mean for potential life in outer space.
The end of the Cassini spacecraft
The Cassini’s orbit of Saturn officially began in 2004. It took the craft from 1997, when it launched, until 2004 to reach the planet in outer space. Starting April 22, 2017, the Cassini will fly through the gap between Saturn and its rings, according to “In ‘grand finale,’ Cassini spacecraft sets off on collision course with Saturn” by Ashley Yeager on April 21, 2017, for sciencenews.com. This will continue until the Cassini spacecraft burns up in Saturn’s atmosphere sometime in September 2017.
Yeager wrote, “Called Cassini’s ‘grand finale,’ these last scientific endeavors could provide new clues to the makeup of the planet’s rings and where they originated, what the planet’s clouds look like and how fast the giant ball of gas spins.” A research paper could explore earlier NASA space exploration missions and compare and contrast the information those missions shared with the world.
There are many facets to space exploration. In “Adapting to Outer Space” by Lesley Evans Ogden on May 1, 2017, for Natural History, the topic of how humans are affected by outer space is discussed. Ogden wrote of a new study where “researchers have completed an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) to vary the pull of gravity and examine its effects on a biochemical reaction crucial to immune response.”
The study revealed that the cells adapted to zero-gravity and their immune response was restored quickly. Ogden explained that how exactly this ultra-rapid adaptation occurs will be the group’s next area of study. What are some other aspects of how space exploration could impact the human body that could be dealt with in a research paper? Particularly how does this impact people traveling further into outer space, as they would with the possibility of a NASA sponsored trip to Mars?
How do you think the information gleaned from the Cassini spacecraft and its space exploration of Saturn can benefit us? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.