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Monday 17 April 2017

The Universe in 101 words: The ocean of Enceladus

Above:Saturn, core of a system of moons and rings like the solar system in miniature.

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

So what's it like?

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

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

*Sorry, couldn't help myself.

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Above: The icy surface of Enceladus.

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