The Ocean That’s 790,100,000 Miles Away (and in Space)
Guess what time it is? Time to talk about space! HelloGiggles loves space. Plus, any topic that’s pre-approved by Ms. Frizzle is a-okay with us. Today’s subject is Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn. Based on gravity measurements, radio signals and other fancy things I’ll grossly generalize as “science,” NASA is suggesting there’s an ocean inside Enceladus.
Yes, there might be an ocean. On a moon. In space. Pause for effect.
In 2005, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and Deep Space Network (remember them?) discovered water vapor and ice spraying from the moon’s south pole. Over the years they’ve done more research using technology similar to that of a radar gun, and based on Enceladus’s structure, it’s likely there’s water on the inside of the moon as well. I REPEAT, THE WATER IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE MOON! Sorry. The source of the water is believed to be an ocean about 25 miles under the moon’s surface.
Of course, there are no guarantees here. NASA has yet to prove the water coming from the southern pole of Enceladus flows from an ocean within the moon itself, but scientists are saying it could be possible. What does this mean? Well, there was a time we thought liquid water was unique to Earth. If there’s an ocean in space, it’s possible there’s also an environment where microbial life could live.
Yes, there might be potential for other life forms. On a moon. In space. Pause for effect.
“Material from Enceladus’ south polar jets contains salty water and organic molecules, the basic chemical ingredients for life,” said Linda Spilker, project scientist for Cassini at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (hi, coolest job ever). “Their discovery expanded our view of the ‘habitable zone’ within our solar system and in planetary systems of other stars. This new validation that an ocean of water underlies the jets furthers understanding about this intriguing environment.” So basically, they’re looking into it, and not ruling anything out.
There’s one thing I know for sure: Enceladus and Cassini would make pretty bomb pet names.
Featured image via Shutterstock