From: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Published November 7, 2017 01:10 PM

Powering Saturn's Active Ocean Moon

Heat from friction could power hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus for billions of years if the moon has a highly porous core, according to a new modeling study by European and U.S. researchers working on NASA's Cassini mission.

The study, published today in the journal Nature Astronomy, helps resolve a question scientist have grappled with for a decade:  Where does the energy to power the extraordinary geologic activity on Enceladus come from?

Cassini found that Enceladus sprays towering, geyser-like jets of water vapor and icy particles, including simple organics, from warm fractures near its south pole. Additional investigation revealed the moon has a global ocean beneath its icy crust, from which the jets are venting into space. Multiple lines of evidence from Cassini indicate that hydrothermal activity -- hot water interacting chemically with rock -- is taking place on the seafloor.

Read more at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Image: A recent study has provided new insights into how the warm interior of Saturn's geologically active moon Enceladus could be sustained for billions of years.

Image Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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