Saturn's ice moon may be more interesting than previously thought


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Enceladus is one of the most interesting satellites for exploring Saturn, as the global ocean is beneath its icy surface. An analysis of the composition of the subglacial fluid showed that the local ocean water emitted by the cracks and faults of Enceladus is rich in organic substances that are necessary for the formation and maintenance of biological life. According to the phys.org portal, the positive properties of Saturn's moon don't end there, giving astronomers even more reasons to believe that Enceladus could be more interesting than previously thought.

Enceladus – one of the most interesting objects in the solar system

What is under the Enceladus ice?

The solar system has a large number of ice objects that deserve the attention of specialists. Together with the Enceladus already mentioned, the icy Jupiter Europe satellite could prove to be a real refuge for extraterrestrial life. Callisto is viewed by scientists as a potential object for human settlement, and Titan – another Saturn satellite – is famous for its dense atmosphere and properties that strongly resemble terrestrial ones. To study the properties of the most interesting satellites in the solar system, specialists from the Southwest Research Institute have developed a new geochemical model that can be used to detect carbon dioxide under the ice of ice satellites.

Analysis of CO2 from Enceladus showed that Saturn's ocean satellite can be controlled by a complex of chemical reactions that take place on its seabed. An examination of the gas cloud and frozen sea spray emitted by cracks in the satellite's ice surface suggests that the interior of Enceladus is much more complex than previously thought.

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The global ocean lies beneath the icy landscape of Enceladus

Dr. Christopher Glein, lead author of the article at Geophysical Research Letters, believes that analyzing an underwater plume to estimate the concentration of dissolved CO2 in the ocean is one of the most promising ways to study depths that are not accessible to instruments. Analysis of mass spectrometric data from NASA's Cassini spaceship shows that the frequency of CO2 can best be explained by geochemical reactions between the rocky core of the moon and liquid water from its subterranean ocean. The combination of this information with previous discoveries of silicon dioxide and molecular hydrogen indicates a more complex, geochemically diverse nucleus.

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The presence of dissolved carbon dioxide also indicates the presence of geothermal sources in Enceladus. At the bottom of the oceans, hydrothermal vents emit high-energy, mineral-rich liquids that allow unique ecosystems to thrive. What if similar processes take place under the Enceladus ice?

Dr. Hunter Waite, who examines the composition of the sea water on the icy Saturn satellite, claims that, although we have not yet found any evidence of the presence of microbial life in the ocean from Enceladus, an increasing number of indications of a chemical imbalance in the water of the Satellites hope for at least a simple life. in this ice world. On February 28, 2015, tiny particles of silica – markers for occurring hydrothermal processes – were detected when the Cassini machine flew over Enceladus. Various sources of observed CO2 and silicon dioxide particles indicate that the core of Enceladus consists of a carbonized outer layer and a serpentine inner layer. On Earth, carbonates are usually found in the form of sedimentary rocks such as limestone, while serpentine minerals are formed from igneous rocks in the sea floor that are rich in magnesium and iron. Researchers believe that such a unique structure of the core could ensure the emergence of forms of subterranean marine life that were still unknown to scientists, and could thus open a new phase in the study of the astronomical science of the future.

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