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Saturn’s moon Enceladus may be habitable: NASA

NASA has announced that Saturn’s sixth-largest moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon Europa may be habitable as they have the necessary ingredients required to sustain life. The key ingredients of life are liquid water, a source of energy for metabolism, and chemicals such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulphur. Findings were made by NASA with the help of Cassini-Huygens unmanned spacecraft and the Hubble Telescope. Cassini-Huygens unmanned spacecraft was sent in 1997 to study Saturn, its rings, and its moon.

Salient findings

Saturn’s moon Enceladus has a higher possibility of hosting life than Jupiter’s Europa as it has a form of chemical energy on which life forms can feed. Enceladus is a small, icy moon which has an abundance of hydrogen molecules in water plumes. 98% of the gas in the plumes was found to be water and 1% is hydrogen and the remaining is a mixture of molecules of carbon dioxide, methane, and ammonia.

Underwater vents present on Enceladus resemble the vents present on Earth’s ocean floors, where microbes and other sea life congregate. Scientists expect to find the potential for life in those vents as microbes flourish on Earth in hot cracks on the ocean floors, where sunlight cannot penetrate. Microbes are capable of using the process of methanogenesis, in which hydrogen is combined with carbon dioxide dissolved in the water, to obtain energy. This process creates methane as a byproduct, which is a critical ingredient for life


Scientists find second Great Spot on Jupiter

Scientists have found second Great Spot in Jupiter which is cold and high up. The Great Spot was found to be 24,000 km across and 12,000 km wide. It is found to be in the upper atmosphere and is much cooler than the hot surroundings. Unlike the Great Red Spot which was identified in 1830, this newly discovered Great Spot is continuously changing its shape and size.

The Great Cold Spot is believed to be caused by magnetic forces responsible for Jupiter’s polar auroras. This phenomenon drives energy into the atmosphere and creates a region of cooling in the boundary layer between the underlying atmosphere and the vacuum of space.

The Great Spot was discovered by a British-led team using a telescope in the Southern Observatory in northern Chile. It was found to be much more volatile than the slowly changing Great Red Spot and found to be thousands of years old. Scientists have planned to study the Great Cold Spot using ground telescopes and NASA’s Juno spacecraft that is orbiting around Jupiter. The study has been published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.


ISRO to share technology for manufacturing of Lithium-ion batteries for production of electric vehicles

The government has directed the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to share battery technology for mass production of Lithium-Ion batteries for electric vehicles. The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre under ISRO has developed indigenous technology to manufacture high-power batteries for use in two- and three-wheelers and their feasibility tests conducted by the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) was found to be successful. This development is expected to push India’s electric vehicles (EV) industry.

It has been reported that many major automobile companies, battery manufacturers and public sector undertakings like Indian Oil, BHEL, Mahindra Renault, Hyundai, Nissan, Tata Motors, High Energy Batteries have approached ISRO for transfer of the battery technology so that it will enable them to produce indigenous Lithium-Ion batteries.

ISRO is soon expected to come up with a framework to make the transfer process smooth. A MoU for manufacturing batteries is expected to be soon reached between ISRO and BHEL. The cabinet secretariat has asked ISRO to develop an enabling framework to enable even interested private players to obtain the technology for mass production.


Batteries are the key components for the production of electric vehicles. But, at present Lithium-ion batteries are imported from abroad which makes them very expensive. Lithium ion batteries have the advantage of being less weight, having high power, and less volume in comparison to conventional batteries. As per the government documents, bulk procurement and mass production of such batteries can reduce the cost by almost 80%. This will push the demand for such batteries and keep their prices within the reach of Indian customers.

The government strives to push for the production of more electric vehicles in order to reduce air pollution, which has become one of the biggest health concerns in recent times.