Mysterious Ice Plumes on Saturn’s Moon Hint at Hidden Ocean

One of the things that makes Earth so unique (besides being populated by humans, of course) is that our atmosphere supports water existing in a liquid state. Most of the news that we’ve heard about planetary “water” has involved frozen, dusty chunks of ice on distant worlds. Now, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has uncovered evidence that a salty ocean could lurk under the surface of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s 63 moons.

The evidence of this hidden ocean was captured in a photo, which shows several plumes ejecting jets of salty ice particles into the atmosphere.

“There currently is no plausible way to produce a steady outflow of salt-rich grains from solid ice across all the tiger stripes other than salt water under Enceladus’s icy surface,” — Frank Postberg, a Cassini team scientist

It’s now suggested that there’s a layer of water between the core of the moon, and the outer icy crust. This ocean could exist up to 50 miles under the surface of Enceladus. This discovery is extremely significant, since it shows that liquid water can exist on icy moons orbiting gas-based planets like Saturn.


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