#1 Posted by PaxRomana (63 posts) -

 I think this is awesome, finally proof of oxygen on other worlds.

A spacecraft has tasted oxygen in the atmosphere of another world for the first time while flying low over Saturn's icy moon, Rhea.

Nasa's Cassini probe scooped oxygen from the thin atmosphere of the planet's moon while passing overhead at an altitude of 97km in March this year.

Until now, wisps of oxygen have only been detected on planets and their moons indirectly, using the Hubble space telescope and other major facilities.

Instruments aboard Cassini revealed an extremely thin oxygen and carbon dioxide atmosphere that is sustained by high-energy particles slamming into the moon's surface and kicking up atoms, molecules and ions.

Astronomers have counted 62 moons orbiting Saturn. At 1500km wide, Rhea is the second largest and is thought to be made almost entirely of ice.

Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/nov/25/oxygen-saturn-moon-rhea

#2 Posted by CookieMonster (2449 posts) -

So what does this actually mean?

#3 Posted by Diamond (8634 posts) -
@CookieMonster:  Water and potentially life.
#4 Posted by djaoni (338 posts) -
@Diamond said:
" @CookieMonster:  Water and potentially life. "
Indeed. We're getting closer and closer to realistically finding life on another planet. 
 
Wasn't it just weeks back they discovered the first extragalactic planet? Thought I read it.
#5 Posted by SlowHands (347 posts) -

I want to go to space, but I probably never will.  This joyous news has made me sad.

#6 Posted by Zimbo (875 posts) -

Don't you need plants to have oxygen? Or can it be formed a different way? Either way, this is really interesting.

#7 Edited by Diamond (8634 posts) -
@djaoni said:

Wasn't it just weeks back they discovered the first extragalactic planet? Thought I read it.

I don't recall reading anything like that.  There was something about the first relatively Earth sized extrasolar planet.  It seems to me that finding an extragalactic planet would be impossible with current tech.
 
No, it seems you were right.  It was quite recent : Link
 
 
It's because right now the star it circles is inside our galaxy according to the article.  Hard to see how that counts, for all the scientists know planets are formed exclusively by stars within the Milky Way :P
#8 Posted by Mikemcn (7021 posts) -
@Zimbo said:
" Don't you need plants to have oxygen? Or can it be formed a different way? Either way, this is really interesting. "
Decomposition of Water I guess.
#9 Edited by Tru3_Blu3 (3245 posts) -

Give the ice planet some dirt and we got plants. Boy, if our species colonizes on that thing, we're going to have an incredible view of Saturn as our "moon". :-)

#10 Posted by Meteora (5787 posts) -
@Zimbo said:
" Don't you need plants to have oxygen? Or can it be formed a different way? Either way, this is really interesting. "
Plants need sunlight and water. They produce oxygen from this. Earth didn't have a whole lot of oxygen back then, not until plants and microorganism began producing oxygen in the oceans. 
 
I'm not sure if they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen though. I'm pretty sure I'm wrong on some level.
#11 Posted by Ineedaname (4319 posts) -

Why does there have to be water and oxygen to be life?
 
If it's an alien life form it would have to adapt to it's own surroundings. Which may not have water or oxygen, but something else.

#12 Posted by pweidman (2364 posts) -

Facinating news.  Oxygen means water, and water means life is possible, even if at only the cellular level.  Plants convert CO2 into Oxygen through photosynthesis, yes.  I wonder what that moon's rotational speed is.  Maybe it's so slow that some of it's ice can melt? Or maybe some time during Saturn's elipse around the sun.  Astronomy is just goddamned awesome :).
#13 Posted by JJWeatherman (14571 posts) -

 Probe win!
#14 Posted by bybeach (5000 posts) -

Here if I understand right, the oxygen is being produced by the high energy particles colliding with atoms and such on the surface. it is not being produced by organisms. But on earth, it was methane eating organisms that produces oxygen in the first place, and later photosynthesis. 
 
Still it is a neat discovery.
#15 Posted by hicks91 (757 posts) -

science post woo! 
 
I fully believe there is life out there, somewhere. In the universe we believe there are 10^21 stars. thats 1 000  000  000  000  000  000  000 stars. Each one potentially could contain a system that could support life, so i dont see why we are so special. 
 
@Diamond said:

" @CookieMonster:  Water and potentially life. "

life is unlikely, it just means that diatomic, elemental oxygen can be demonstrably shown to exist in detectable quantities on bodies other than Earth which just really gives us hope there could be earth like bodies out there, somewhere. 
 
@Zimbo said:

" Don't you need plants to have oxygen? Or can it be formed a different way? Either way, this is really interesting. "

On earth plants recycle oxygen, however where it comes from is deeper than that. All elements heavier than hydrogen are forged in the nuclear furnace at the centre of stars. They produce true elements, plants merely operate a chemical reaction of materials that are already there 
 
here is NASA's explanation of it 
 
http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/050921a.html  
 
@Ineedaname said:
" Why does there have to be water and oxygen to be life?  If it's an alien life form it would have to adapt to it's own surroundings. Which may not have water or oxygen, but something else. "

Water is believed necessary for life because it is the perfect environment for chemical processes to occur. It is also made of Hydrogen and Oxygen, with Hydrogen being the most abundant element in the universe, and oxygen being one of the "easier" elements to create, it is likely that any life forms will evolve utilizing the two. 
 
once again, here is a NASA scientist giving a far better explanation 
 
 http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/ask-an-astrobiologist/question/?id=178
#16 Posted by GetEveryone (4458 posts) -
@Ineedaname said:
" Why does there have to be water and oxygen to be life?  If it's an alien life form it would have to adapt to it's own surroundings. Which may not have water or oxygen, but something else. "
There was an article recently on this, and it suggested that alien-life would be very similar to what you'd find on earth. ie. Consisting and dependant upon the same chemical requirements. I think its due to life needing both heat and water, but I'm not sure. If I can find the article I'll link it.
#17 Posted by Zimbo (875 posts) -
@hicks91: 
Oh, I see. Thanks for the info. Science is awesome. :D
#18 Posted by ryanwho (12082 posts) -

God I can't wait until beer companies can tap space icebergs.

#19 Posted by Dany (7887 posts) -
@Ineedaname said:
" Why does there have to be water and oxygen to be life?  If it's an alien life form it would have to adapt to it's own surroundings. Which may not have water or oxygen, but something else. "
We don't know of any life that can live without water so it is much safer to say if it has water it can have life
#20 Posted by Kjellm87 (1722 posts) -

That's pretty cool
I believe there's alot of life out there in space, just not nearby.

#21 Posted by astrotriforce (1326 posts) -

Very, very interesting. I love reading about space and planets, even though most of it is over my head.  
 
When I was in Junior High I read literally every single planet book they had in the library :P

#22 Posted by DetectiveSpecial (464 posts) -

As explained in the initial article, they have found oxygen on three of Saturn's moons.
It was the carbon dioxide that made it interesting.

#23 Posted by Halberdierv2 (1877 posts) -

cool! although, the temperature is still an issue.

#24 Posted by ArchScabby (5809 posts) -

We should do the Total Recall thing.  We need to suck all the air out until that moon is willing to obey us and follow our rules!

#25 Posted by ch3burashka (5256 posts) -

I don't give a shit about extra-terrestrial bacteria and other dumb stuff. I'll regain interest once we encounter another conscious species.

#26 Posted by hicks91 (757 posts) -
#27 Posted by S0ndor (2716 posts) -
@CH3BURASHKA: Haven't you heard? They are already here, trying to usher in a new world order by controlling the UN and the Rockefeller family. I mean, seriously, open your eyes, man.