Highlight Lecture 3:
The Saturn System as a Natural Laboratory to Investigate the Emergence of Biology
Friday 30 September, 08:30 – 09:30
Location: Guadalajara Hall 9&10
Titan and Enceladus comprise a superb natural laboratory for studying the emergence of life, from pre-biotic chemistry in a dynamic geological setting, all the way to contemporary habitability of a salt-water ocean. We are fortunate that both of these important moons are in one planetary system; astrodynamics access to Enceladus is in fact gained by using Titan gravity assists; and Cassini has demonstrated how to conduct operations at Saturn. Mission designs, technologies, and even flight systems can be shared between these targets, making the exploration of both more accessible and affordable than if they were singular. The synergies mean that humanity is poised to follow Cassini back to the Saturn system, this time with the age-old goal in sight of learning how common life may be in the cosmos. The quest to understand how life arises, and where, is an inspiring, provocative, and enduring one.
Solar System Mission Formulation
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science