General, Research, Technology

Saturn's Ice Moon may be more interesting than previously thought

Enceladus is one of the most interesting forstudy of Saturn's satellites due to the presence of the global ocean under its icy surface. An analysis of the composition of the subglacial fluid showed that the local ocean water ejected through the cracks and faults of Enceladus is rich in organic substances, which are so necessary for the formation and maintenance of biological life. According to the portal, the positive properties of the Saturnian moon do not end there, giving astronomers even more reasons to believe that Enceladus may be more interesting than previously thought.

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

What is under the ice of Enceladus?

In the solar system there are a large numberice objects that deserve the close attention of specialists. So, along with the Enceladus already mentioned above, the icy satellite of Jupiter Europe may turn out to be a real haven for extraterrestrial life; Callisto is considered by scientists as a potential object for human colonization, and Titan - another satellite of Saturn - is famous for its dense atmosphere and characteristics that are very reminiscent of terrestrial ones. To study the properties of the most interesting satellites of the solar system, specialists from the Southwest Research Institute have developed a new geochemical model that is configured to detect carbon dioxide under the ice of ice satellites.

Analysis of CO2 from Enceladus showed that oceanSaturn’s satellite can be controlled by a complex of chemical reactions occurring on its seabed. A study of the gas plume and frozen sea spray ejected through cracks in the satellite’s ice surface suggests that the interior of Enceladus is much more complex than previously thought.

Under the icy landscape of Enceladus lies the global ocean

Dr. Christopher Glein, lead author of the article atGeophysical Research Letters, believes that the analysis of an underwater plume to assess the concentration of dissolved CO2 in the ocean may be one of the most promising ways to study the depths inaccessible to instruments. Analysis of mass spectrometric data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows that the abundance of CO2 is best explained by geochemical reactions between the rocky core of the moon and liquid water from its subsurface ocean. The combination of this information with previous discoveries of silica and molecular hydrogen indicates a more complex, geochemically diverse core.

See also: The abundance of gases on Enceladus is “free food” for life. But is there life there?

The presence of dissolved carbon dioxide is alsoindicates the presence of geothermal springs within Enceladus. At the bottom of the oceans, hydrothermal springs emit energy-rich, mineral-rich liquids that allow unique ecosystems to flourish. What if similar processes occur beneath the ice of Enceladus?

Dr. Hunter Waite Seawater Compositionon Saturn’s icy satellite, claims that although we still haven’t found any evidence of the presence of microbial life in the Enceladus ocean, the growing evidence of chemical imbalance in the satellite’s water gives hope for even the simplest life in this icy world. So, on February 28, 2015, during the flight of the Cassini automatic station over Enceladus, tiny particles of silica - markers of hydrothermal processes occurring - were noticed. Various sources of observed particles of CO2 and silica imply that the core of Enceladus consists of a carbonized top layer and a serpentinized 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 of the seabed, rich in magnesium and iron. Researchers believe that such a unique structure of the nucleus could provide the emergence of forms of subsurface ocean life that were still unknown to scientists, thus opening a new stage in the study of the astronomical science of the future.