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Hydrazine on the surface of Saturn’s moon Rhea?

The uncertainty of science: Scientists using data from several Cassini flyby’s of the Saturn moon Rhea now think that hydrazine, a very toxic chemical routinely used by spacecraft as fuel, might exist on its surface.

Their effort was an attempt to identify an unknown spectroscopy absorption feature at a specific wavelength.

In comparison to chloromethane, the production of hydrazine monohydrate was easier to explain due to chemical reactions involving water-ice and ammonia or delivery from Titan’s nitrogen rich atmosphere. Elowitz et al. considered the possibility of contamination of the UVIS data by a hydrazine propellant from the Cassini spacecraft, although it was highly unlikely since the hydrazine thrusters were not used during icy satellite flybys.

The team confirmed the specific signature of a 184-nm feature on Rhea’s surface using the UV spectrometer observations made by the Cassini spacecraft. In addition to that, the irradiation of ammonia by charged particles from Saturn’s magnetosphere induced the dissociation of ammonia molecules to form diazene and hydrazine. The source of ammonia on Rhea could be primordial, incorporated into its interior during formation and brought to the surface within a period of endogenic activity, as evident in Cassini ISS imagery, although ammonia was unlikely to survive indefinitely on the surface. The team suggest further analysis to understand the potential for satellite-to-satellite transfer of materials across Titan’s atmosphere to explain the presence of hydrazine monohydrate on Rhea.

Though useful as a fuel, its poisonous nature will make any exploration of these moons very hazardous, and will also likely make its usefulness difficult initially in that exploration

Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

2 comments

  • Alton

    Send in the Clowns…..
    NO! Hal9000 and his squadron of Robots!

  • LocalFluff

    In the sci fi movie “Cargo” the colony on Rhea was said to have failed. Maybe this is why.

    Hydrazine was the fuel used for the space shuttle’s (and the fighter F-16’s) emergency electric power unit. So it might be a useful resource ready to use. Thanks nature!

    (Bob, I switch to my zohomail account as I comment here, rest of the email is the same)

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