Saturn’s moon Enceladus, new study


This video says about itself:

Warm Water Spots Found On Saturn’s Icy Moon Enceladus

12 March 2015

Astronomers have detected the first active hydrothermal vents outside of Earth’s seafloor on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, indicating conditions that could be hospitable to the initial development of life.

New research suggests the existence of warm spots on the ocean floor of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus.

They could be the first active hydrothermal vents to be detected outside of Earth’s seafloor, and their conditions may even be similarly hospitable to the initial development of life.

Two studies, one led by the University of Colorado, Boulder and the other by the Southwest Research Institute in Texas, support the possible existence of this hydrothermal activity.

In 2005, the Cassini orbiter captured images of geysers shooting out of the moon’s surface, which led to the discovery of an underground sea believed to be approximately 6 miles deep and under about 25 miles of icy crust.

Scientists discovered particles from the geysers in one of Saturn’s rings and using an instrument onboard Cassini were able to analyze the tiny, uniform dust particles. They found they were rich in silica which is common on Earth but different from the usual ice crystals found in Saturn’s E-ring.

Because silica has such well-known properties, the only way they could create similar particles in the lab was using slightly alkaline, low-in-salinity water at temperatures of at least 194 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite the ultra-cold environment, the moon’s high core temperature is thought to come from an effect called tidal heating where Saturn’s gravitational pull on the moon generates heat.

From the International Business Times:

On Saturn’s Moon Enceladus, Water Vapor Erupts In Giant Curtains: Study

By Avaneesh Pandey

May 08 2015 8:35 AM EDT

In 2005, NASA’s Cassini-Huygens spacecraft found evidence of an icy spray issuing from the southern polar region of Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, Enceladus. Now, just two months after scientists confirmed the presence of hydrothermal activity on the moon, researchers have claimed that the eruption of water vapor on its surface might be in the form of broad, curtain-like sheets, rather than discrete jets.

“We think most of the observed activity represents curtain eruptions from the ‘tiger stripe’ fractures, rather than intermittent geysers along them,” Joseph Spitale, a Cassini mission participating scientist and senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, said, in a statement, referring to prominent wavy fractures along the moon’s surface. “Some prominent jets likely are what they appear to be, but most of the activity seen in the images can be explained without discrete jets.”

According to a study published Thursday in the journal Nature, these “phantom jets” seen in simulated images produced by scientists line up perfectly with some of the features seen in real Cassini images. This means that the discrete geysers that scientists have observed on Enceladus are, in fact, an optical illusion created in places where these curtains fold against one another. This illusion is also responsible for creating regions of phantom brightness when viewers are looking through the folds of watery curtains.

“The viewing direction plays an important role in where the phantom jets appear,” Spitale said, in the statement. “If you rotate your perspective around Enceladus’ South Pole, such jets would seem to appear and disappear.”

On Earth, these curtain eruptions occur in regions of volcanic activity such as Hawaii, Iceland and the Galapagos Islands. However, unlike Enceladus’ watery curtains, these are curtains of fire.

Enceladus is believed to be covered with a layer of ice about 19 miles to 25 miles thick. Evidence strongly suggests that the moon harbors a six-mile-deep ocean, with temperatures reaching up to 194 degrees Fahrenheit below its thick, icy surface, making it a prime location to look for extraterrestrial life.

5 thoughts on “Saturn’s moon Enceladus, new study

  1. Pingback: Ocean discovery on Saturn’s moon Enceladus | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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