Cassini discovered ‘subterranean ocean “on Saturn’s moon Enceladus




From image data from the Cassini-Huygens mission show that Saturn’s moon Enceladus has an underground ocean that is spread throughout the celestial body. The conclusions were drawn after an analysis of the so-called libration of the moon of Saturn.

That writes NASA on its website. The researchers noted that the small fluctuations or “libration” that the little moon are larger than what would have been possible if the moon would have consisted entirely of solid. The observed fluctuations can only be as strong as the relatively outermost layer of ice floats on a liquid layer, which in this case points to the existence of an ice-covered by ocean which extends over the entire surface of the moon.

Why the water layer around the rocky core is not completely frozen, according to the researchers remains still a mystery. It could for instance be that the tidal forces to endure the moon gets by gravity Saturn exerts on it, causing more heat inside Enceladus than expected.

The spacecraft had already in early 2005 geysers of water vapor, ice particles and simple molecules observed in fractures and cracks in the ice on the lunar surface at the South Pole. It pointed to the possible existence of a water reservoir at the South Pole. Later analysis of Cassini-Huygens data already suggested the existence of a lens shaped body of water or sea beneath the south polar region of the moon. Even though gravity data was collected which indicated a possible larger, perhaps over the entire surface vast sea. That seems studying after seven years of image information from the Cassini-Huygens mission is indeed to be the case.

The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997 and arrived on July 1, 2004 at Saturn. Since then, transmits the probe information to the earth. The cooperation project between ESA, NASA and the Italian Space Agency runs, subject to funding, probably until 2017.

The system by which the pictures are taken by Cassini-Huygens called iss, or the imaging science subsystem. The instrument uses a wide-angle camera and a small camera angle. A small angle camera takes pictures over very large distances from a very small area. By comparison, a two-euro coin is visible over a distance of four kilometers. A wide-angle camera on the other hand is more ‘overview’. Both cameras take photos with different filters and CCD of 1024 by 1024 pixels. The system sends around 2,700 photos per month to the earth, which explains why there are so many beautiful pictures to find Saturn and its environment.


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