Strange News And The UneXplained!

World News, Unexplained Phenomena, Natural Anomalies!

Saturn’s Most Habitable Moon Offers Ice

Posted by 3citynewswire on 02/27/2010

Enceladus has to be one of the most intriguing objects in the solar system. It’s definitely our favorite of Saturn’s 62 moons here at Wired Science, and it’s among the most likely places to find the necessary ingredients for extraterrestrial life in the solar system.

Enceladus actively spews jets of material from its south pole, forming one of Saturn’s majestic rings. New evidence from the jets suggesting that there is a liquid ocean beneath the moon’s icy crust was published just this week in the journal Icarus.

Data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which dove through the jets in 2008, showed the plumes contain negatively charged ions, which have only been found on Earth, another Saturnian moon — Titan — and comets. On Earth, negatively charged ions are found where water is moving, such as in a waterfall or a crashing wave. The discovery of the ions in Enceladus’ jets is the best evidence yet of liquid water.

On top of being a possible haven for life, Enceladus is beautiful. Its icy crust is riven with cracks and folds that somehow look both familiar and alien at the same time. Older surfaces have impact craters. The four huge, linear depressions at its south pole known as the tiger stripes are probably less than 1,000 years old and warmer than the rest of the crust, evidence that Enceladus is actively forming ice.

Though it is just over 300 miles in diameter, a tenth the size of Titan, tiny Enceladus has won us over. With Cassini’s new life extension into 2017, and 11 more planned flybys of Enceladus, we can expect more awesome images and enlightening data.


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