Evidence from Cassini, a robot spacecraft, suggests that there are oceans of hot water on Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus. Might the oceans be home to alien life? In this activity students use their knowledge of the behaviour of water in its liquid and solid states to weigh up the evidence for and against the presence of liquid water on Enceladus. They then decide if it is worth sending a second spacecraft to look for alien life on this icy moon.
Particle model: Explain the properties of solids, liquids and gases based on the arrangement and movement of their particles (KS3 Science Syllabus)
Draw conclusions: Judge whether the conclusion is supported by the data (KS3 Science Syllabus)
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Running the activity
Starter New evidence suggests that Enceladus has oceans of hot, liquid water. Could this be true? If so, does the moon harbour alien life?
Main Cassini, a robot spacecraft, has gathered data from Enceladus. Students interpret the data to decide on the strength of the evidence for the conclusion that there is hot liquid water on Enceladus.
Plenary Students discuss whether it is worth sending a spacecraft to look for alien life on Enceladus.
For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.
Video clips with Brian Cox about what the Cassini spacecraft discovered about Enceladus. Suitable for use in class to introduce the activity.
Information about Enceladus from NASA, including links to resources news releases about the findings of Cassini.
Information about Enceladus from NASA, including links to a virtual tour, information about its atmosphere and news releases about the findings of Cassini.
Useful teacher background about recent findings.