Dr. Jason Soderblom said in a September 10, 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Press Release that the evolution of lunar porosity can provide scientists with valuable clues to some of the most ancient life-supporting processes occurring in our Solar System. Dr. Soderblom is a planetary research scientist in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
This important measurement was made using Cassini's INMS instrument, which detects gases with the goal of determining their composition. INMS was designed to sample the upper atmosphere of Saturn's large, smoggy moon Titan. However, after Cassini's surprising discovery of a tall plume if icy spray erupting from cracks on Enceladus in 2005, planetary scientists turned its detectors to that small moon.
The team's findings can also be applied to exoplanets, which are planets that circle stars beyond our own Sun. Some super-Earth exoplanets, which are rocky planets more massive than our own, have been proposed as "water worlds" covered with churning oceans. Could they have life? Perhaps. The potential would certainly be there. Dr. Vance and his team believe laboratory experiments and more sophisticated modeling of exotic oceans might help to find answers to these very profound questions.