The organization, Breakthrough Prize Foundation, funded by Russian billionaire, Yuri Milner, is analyzing the possibility of a private mission to Enceladus, one of the 62 confirmed moons of Saturn. This mission is still in the study phase, but the icy moon likely has an ocean of liquid water under its surface which makes it a prospect for a potential habitable world. In fact, Enceladus and Europa (Jupiter’s moon) are the top 2 candidates to host alien life.
Enceladus was closely seen during NASA’s mission, Cassin, which revealed plumes coming from the moon’s surface. Milner, along with the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, wants to design a “low-cost” mission to launch soon so that they can analyze those plumes closely. This mission would help NASA come up with a more sophisticated plan that will deeply examine Enceladus’ surface and its inner cores.
For this mission, Milner has discussed the options of a simple flyby of the moon, or entering Saturn’s orbit and have multiple flybys of Enceladus. No further details were given. This mission was presented November 16, 2017 at the NewSpace Europe conference by Pete Worden, a chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and former director at NASA Ames Research Center.
The Breakthrough Prize Foundation is focused on the pursuit of life beyond the solar system. The Enceladus mission is their latest project that will be supportive of NASA’s future missions.
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