One of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, stores in its bowels an ocean of meltwater, which could turn out to be a real home for germs. This conclusion was made by scientists from Italy and the United States, joining forces to study the vast planet and its satellites.
The first groundwater research at the southern polis of a small satellite that revolves around Saturn was made as part of a joint Cassini mission program that brought together talented scientists from America, Italy and Europe. The mission was entirely entrusted to the US agency NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), while Italy provided all the necessary radars for measuring the mission, measuring instruments and other equipment.
After several years of careful study of the materials and samples collected during the mission, the scientists came to the conclusion that the total area of water found on Enceladus is approximately equal to the amount of water in the Upper Lake (the second largest in the world) and exceeds Lake Gardathat is in Italy, 245 times. Located between the core and the shell of the planet, the ocean is located at a depth of 31 kilometers below the surface of the satellite. “The measurements and studies we conducted allowed us to discover a huge reservoir of liquid comparable to the volume of water in the Upper Lake in North America,” explained Prof Luciano of La Sapienza University in Rome. The shocking results of the mission indicate that the Enceladus satellite (in diameter it is 500 kilometers) can provide the best conditions for life outside the Earth.
For the first time, scientists wondered about the existence of groundwater on the satellite of Saturn back in 2005, after they discovered steam above its surface.
“The material we managed to get at the south pole of Enceladus was salt water containing organic molecules, the main chemicals needed for life,” said Linda Spilker, who was directly involved in the Cassini mission. “This discovery has greatly expanded our vision of a“ potential place to live ”within our solar system, as well as in the solar systems of other planets.”
The spaceship of the same name Cassini made three flights around Enceladus from 2010 to 2012 in order to determine the fields of gravity of the satellite. Two flights were made above the south pole of the object of study at an altitude of 65 and 44 miles above its surface, and one flight was above the north pole at a distance of 31 miles. Before that, Cassini was used for a detailed analysis of the planet Saturn and all its satellites (she had them 53). Researchers believe that the discovered ocean may be under a layer of ice that covers the whole of Enceladus. “For the first time in history, we used the geophysical method to“ probe ”the inner structure of Enceladus,” said David Stevenson, professor of astronomy.