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Billionaire aims to jump-start search for alien life and rewrite rules of space exploration


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Yuri Milner is partnering with NASA to develop a mission to Saturn's icy moon, Enceladus.

At a space summit in Seattle last year, the wealthy Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner wowed the audience with a radical plan to search for life beyond Earth. Rather than focusing on Mars, he proposed focusing on Enceladus (en-SELL-uh-duss), a small icy moon of Saturn. And rather than waiting to see if NASA might go there, he said he wanted to tackle the challenge himself through his nonprofit Breakthrough Starshot Foundation.

“We formed a little workshop around this idea: Can we design a low-cost, privately funded mission to Enceladus, which can be launched relatively soon?” Milner said. It would be the first private mission ever to deep space.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enceladus

Of all the major objects in our solar system, this moon has the greatest probability of having life forms. It has a water ocean under its reflective icy surface & heating of this by various mechanisms. Organic compounds of some sophistication have been detected coming from this moon another hopeful sign of possible life existing there.

Such a mission would be potentially a major leap forward in our understanding of this moon, the solar system & the origin of life.
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That’s cool. Even if aliens aren’t found, and I don’t think they will be, it doesn’t mean nothing good can come from it. We find cool things out about neighboring systems when we study them closely and learn about other cool astronomical events and objects.

That said...ya never know.
A big misconception in the origin of life arena is that water is absolutely necessary for life to begin & exist. If we follow that dogma, all of our sensors designed to only detect water-based life may miss life based on some other solvent system, even gases under pressure like on Jupiter such as methane & ammonia.

A quick definition of a living thing is a) energetic and b) long lasting. So why rule out the Great Red Spot on Jupiter for not being 'alive?' It has been in existence for hundreds of years & is obviously energetic. We anthropomorphize too much in what we seek but we shouldn't beat ourselves up over this shortcoming.
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