NASA scientists involved in the Cassini mission have discovered a new habitable moon in the Earth’s solar system called Enceladus.
After years of analysis, the Cassini spacecraft found that underneath Enceladus’s surface there could be possible hydrothermal activity.
According to the scientists, this kind of chemical reaction happens because of a high water temperature. The scientists believe that underneath one of Saturn’s moon there are several warm water oceans. NASA’s recent findings were detailed in a study published in the journal Nature.
The new study suggests that one of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus could hold a multitude of warm subsurface oceans. According to the researchers, this means that the moon could support life.
NASA’S Cassini spacecraft has been studying Saturn and its surroundings since 2004. The observations reveal that one of the moons of Saturn may have some sort of hydrothermal activity beneath the ice surface.
The scientists reached this conclusion after they found evidence of rocky particles that have recently due to chemical reactions that take place between rocks and hot water.
Sean Hsu, scientists at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, and one of the main authors of the new study, explained that this particular chemical reaction would only happen if the water is 190 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.
Hsu said that they found evidence of dust particles that are very rich in silicon and are nanometric in size. These particles are known as “stream particles” and are different that the icy surface and objects that Saturn is made of.
According to Hsu and his team, these particles, which are initially encrusted in the icy grains are sent by Enceladus’s subterranean warm oceans and released through sputter erosion towards Saturn’s rings.
The researchers explain that hydrothermal activity occurs when there is a reaction between seawater and the rocky crust, resulting in a warm water that is rich in minerals.
Due to the fact that this phenomenon happens naturally in our oceans, the scientists believe that similar activity could take place on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
The recent findings mean that Enceladus might be a suitable environment for living organisms, NASA believes.
Image Source: apod.nasa.gov
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