Enceladus Is All Wet
…And Is A Moon of Saturn
Arrggg! So much news today! But the most interesting (unless you’re a real Michael Jackson fan) is from a paper published in the British journal Nature, by Frank Postberg of the University of Heidelberg.
The Cassini spacecraft has found what may be the strongest evidence yet that Saturn’s tiny moon Enceladus has an ocean beneath its icy surface. If the liquid water finding is confirmed, it would suggest that the moon may be one of the most promising places in the solar system to search for signs of past or present extraterrestrial life.
This is significant.
You see, there are three ingredients necessary for life; an energy source, a good mix of organic chemicals (both of which Cassini has found on Enceladus already), and water. Liquid water.
Researchers in Europe detected salt particles in the volcanic vapour-and-ice jets that shoot hundreds of kilometres (miles) into space, the strongest evidence to date of a liquid ocean under the moon’s icy crust.
If Jupiter’s moon Europa also has oceans below its frozen surface, the number of places in the solar system with the potential to harbor life is starting to look distinctly greater than 1.
Cassini has been circling Saturn since 2004.