University of Oulu

Choblet, G., Tobie, G., Buch, A. et al. Enceladus as a potential oasis for life: Science goals and investigations for future explorations. Exp Astron (2021).

Enceladus as a potential oasis for life : science goals and investigations for future explorations

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Author: Choblet, Gaël1; Tobie, Gabriel1; Buch, Arnaud2;
Organizations: 1LPG, Université Nantes/CNRS, Nantes, France
2Centrale Supélec, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
3Charles University Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
4NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA
5Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
6LATMOS, UVSQ/CNRS, Guyancourt, France
7University of Idaho, Idaho, USA
8Mullard Space Science Lab, London, UK
9Observatoire de Paris, Paris, France
10INAF-OAPD, Padova, Italy
11JHU-APL, Laurel, USA
12IRSPS, Università d’Annunzio, Pescara, Italy
13Dipartimento di Ingegneria e Geologia, Università d’Annunzio, Perugia, Italy
14NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, USA
15University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, USA
16Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
17Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
18Universität Köln, Cologne, Germany
19Oulu University, Oulu, Finland
20ELSI, Tokyo, Japan
21JAMSTEC, Yokosuka, Japan
22ISAS/JAXA, Tokyo, Japan
23Royal Observatory, Brussels, Belgium
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2023-02-23


Enceladus is the first planetary object for which direct sampling of a subsurface water reservoir, likely habitable, has been performed. Over a decade of flybys and seven flythroughs of its watery plume, the Cassini spacecraft determined that Enceladus possesses all the ingredients for life. The existence of active eruptions blasting fresh water into space, makes Enceladus the easiest target in the search for life elsewhere in the Solar System. Flying again through the plume with more advanced instruments, landing at the surface near active sources and collecting a sample for return to Earth are the natural next steps for assessing whether life emerges in this active world. Characterizing this habitable world also requires detailed mapping and monitoring of its tidally-induced activity, from the orbit as well as from the surface using complementary platforms. Such ambitious goals may be achieved in the future in the framework of ESA large or medium-class missions in partnership with other international agencies, in the same spirit of the successful Cassini-Huygens mission. For all these reasons, exploring habitable ocean worlds, with Enceladus as a primary target, should be a priority topic of the ESA Voyage 2050 programme.

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Series: Experimental astronomy
ISSN: 0922-6435
ISSN-E: 1572-9508
ISSN-L: 0922-6435
Volume: In press
DOI: 10.1007/s10686-021-09808-7
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 115 Astronomy and space science
Copyright information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. 2021. This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at: