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Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Universe in 101 words: Will we return to Saturn's moon Enceladus?

Above: Enceladus, an ocean world covered in ice.

Our solar system is awash* with ocean worlds. And thanks to the Cassini missionary we've gotten to know one, Enceladus a 500km wide moon of Saturn, really well.

So what's it ocean like?

Dark - the ocean's covered in 20km of ice - but maybe not totally black: There's volcanic activity on the ocean floor, possibly like the white smoker vents of Earth, so there'd be the dim carmine glow of volcanism. More importantly the salty, alkaline, water contains organic chemicals and hydrogen - food for possible micro-life.

Cassini's mission is over - but its now hard to imagine us not returning to Enceladus....


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Above: The geysers of Enceladus, backlit: The ocean is literally leaking into space!

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