Tigfusion (UltraHighVacuum.com) manufacture reaction chamber for The Open University to simulate environment on Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.

New research that will inform the search for life elsewhere in our Solar System is being conducted at the Open University (OU) using a bespoke reaction chamber built by Tigfusion (UltraHighVacuum.com). Huge geysers of ice and gas erupting from the south pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus (pictured right) were sampled by the NASA/ESA Cassini mission between 2004 and 2017. Cassini discovered that the plumes originate from an ocean of liquid water beneath Enceladus’s icy crust that contains the necessary conditions to support microbial life. Motivated by the possibility that extraterrestrial life may exist under the surface of a moon of Saturn, missions are now being planned by international space agencies, such as NASA and ESA, to return to Enceladus to directly search for evidence of life ejected in the plumes.

A new set of experiments, led by Mark Fox-Powell and Dominic Siggs at the OU and enabled by a Tigfusion (UltraHighVacuum.com) reactor, will simulate the conditions at the ocean surface deep within vents in the moon’s ice crust. It’s here that ocean waters are aerosolised by vigorous bubbling before being ejected as particles of ice in the plumes. Their work seeks to understand how biosignatures – traces of microbial life – can become entrained into these microscopic plume particles and thus erupted into space, laying the groundwork for future space missions.

Enceladus and its dramatic ice plumes, as imaged by the Cassini spacecraft. Image credit: NASA JPL/Cassini.

Simulating the environment of Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus

Cutaway artist's impression of Enceladus

Cutaway artist’s impression of Enceladus, showing the subsurface ocean, where hydrothermal activity is supplying the ocean with potentially life-giving chemistry, and the ice shell, where narrow vents feed the plumes. Image credit: NASA

Tigfusion (UltraHighVacuum.com) reaction chamber, simulating Enceladus' environment

Tigfusion (UltraHighVacuum.com) manufactured this reaction chamber for The Open University to simulate the environment on Enceladus; the conditions at the ocean surface deep within vents in the moon’s ice crust. This research is pathing the way for future NASA space expeditions to this potentially life harbouring icy moon of Saturn!

Expert Help From Start To Finish

  • UltraHighVacuum.com is proficient in the supply of the highest quality Vacuum Chambers & Fabrications direct from your drawings, sketches or verbal instructions. UltraHighVacuum.com will manage the whole process from enquiry to delivery.

  • Our manufacturing company, Tigfusion’s, comprehensive manufacturing facilities enable our specialist team to custom build the highest quality Vacuum chambers or Vacuum fabrications promptly and cost-effectively. We can fabricate special Vacuum assemblies and Vacuum chambers up to 750mm in diameter.
  • Our Technical Support is available to you, along with our experienced drawing office. We can produce engineering drawings of your proposed custom product based on your requirements and specification. We can also work from your drawings.

Tigfusion’s (UltrahighVacuum.com) high tech workshop includes the DMG Mori 5 axis machining centre, one of very few this size in the UK!

Get in touch with our friendly team to discover how we can support your project(s) today!