NASA Confirms that Enceladus has a Subsurface Ocean

Sep 23, 2015


By FQtQ Contributor

A global ocean lies beneath the icy crust of Saturn’s geologically active moon Enceladus, according to new research using data from NASA’s Cassini mission.

Researchers found the magnitude of the moon’s very slight wobble, as it orbits Saturn, can only be accounted for if its outer ice shell is not frozen solid to its interior, meaning a global ocean must be present.

The finding implies the fine spray of water vapor, icy particles and simple organic molecules Cassini has observed coming from fractures near the moon’s south pole is being fed by this vast liquid water reservoir. The research is presented in a paper published online this week in the journal Icarus.

Previous analysis of Cassini data suggested the presence of a lens-shaped body of water, or sea, underlying the moon’s south polar region. However, gravity data collected during the spacecraft’s several close passes over the south polar region lent support to the possibility the sea might be global. The new results — derived using an independent line of evidence based on Cassini’s images — confirm this to be the case.

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One comment on “NASA Confirms that Enceladus has a Subsurface Ocean”

  • Probes in recent years have established that water (or ice) is common in the orbiting bodies of the Solar-System.
    They have also established that active geology and volcanism are common, although the working fluids and atmospheres, vary according to the temperature and pressure.
    Silica based magmas on Earth and Venus, (with fossil lavas on the Moon and Mars). Water ice, solid hydrogen, solid, solid methane, and solid nitrogen elsewhere.

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