|Society for Popular Astronomy
|Enceladus: what lies beneath?
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|Author:||brian livesey [ Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:40 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Enceladus: what lies beneath?|
At only 300 miles in diameter, it was considered unlikely that the Saturnian satellite had a complex internal structure, but new data from Cassini suggests otherwise. The salty water vapour geysers that were discovered issuing from fissures on Enceladus's icy surface, could be explained by the presence of an ocean covering an area the size of Ireland.
Three Cassini flybys of Enceladus from 2010 to 2012, making precise measurements of the moon's gravitational field, revealed a gravitational anomaly, suggesting a denser material 18-24 miles beneath the moon's south polar region and that could extend to the equator:
"David Stevenson, a professor of Planetary Science at the California Institute of Science and Technology said: 'The only sensible candidate for that material is water'. The scientists believe the sub-surface ocean sits directly above silicate rock instead of ice, which would provide some of the necessary conditions for the complex chemical reactions that led to life on Earth." THE TIMES, April 4.
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