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Ice Volcanoes of Enceladus Created By Liquid Water Beneath the Moon's Surface?

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Author Topic: Ice Volcanoes of Enceladus Created By Liquid Water Beneath the Moon's Surface?  (Read 32 times)
Harconen
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« on: July 22, 2009, 02:47:17 pm »

Ice Volcanoes of Enceladus Created By Liquid Water Beneath the Moon's Surface?
By Annalee Newitz, 9:40 AM on Wed Jul 22 2009





This image from the Cassini probe shows an ice volcano erupting on the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Scientists have suggested that these volcanoes might come from water beneath the moon's surface, and new evidence makes this theory more plausible.

Not only are these ice volcanoes massive - you can see from this image how high their plumes get - but researchers believe that ejected material from them makes up most of Saturn's "E" ring. Today Nature has published a paper written by researchers who have analyzed the chemical composition of the volcanoes, which burst from cracks in Enceladus' south pole. According to the journal:
[Author] William Lewis and colleagues . . . find that ammonia and various organic compounds are present, together with deuterium - 'heavy' hydrogen that is abundant in the oceans of Earth. Ammonia, together with methanol and salts, acts as an antifreeze, allowing liquid water to exist at temperatures of nearly −100 degrees Celsius. The authors suggest that preserving even a residual oceanic layer during cooling episodes would maintain conditions necessary for tidal heating and geologic activity.

In other words, yes, there might be an underground ocean on Enceladus, complete with tides. You know what that means? Subterranean floating colonies.

via Nature

http://io9.com/5319853/ice-volcanoes-of-enceladus-created-by-liquid-water-beneath-the-moons-surface
« Last Edit: July 22, 2009, 02:48:12 pm by Harconen » Report Spam   Logged

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Harconen
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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2009, 02:54:35 pm »

Liquid Water Could Drive the Geysers of Enceladus
By Ed Grabianowski, 10:00 AM on Thu Oct 16 2008




When astronomers noticed that massive plumes of crystals and vapor were jetting out of Saturn's moon Enceladus, they were left with quite a mystery. What exactly is going on beneath the moon's surface to create such a violent reaction? Scientists at Cornell's 40th annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society tried to unravel the puzzle, and they have an interesting theory. Enceladus might have liquid water inside it, and something is squeezing it out.

The mysterious squeezing force is actually tidal action from Saturn, which plays another role - the friction it creates is probably generating a great deal of heat wthin Enceladus. That heat is the direct cause of the pressure and liquid water within the strange satellite. But why are the geysers located in a specific region (the "Tiger Stripes" near the southern pole)? The surface there is riddled with a series of huge fissures. Tidal forces from Saturn press the fissures closed, allowing pressure to build up below. Later, the tidal forces allow the fissures to open again, releasing the pressure as massive geysers. The shape of the moon and the nature of the tidal forces might account for the location of the geysers.

Figuring out how all the heat and pressure acts within Enceladus is tricky. Essentially, the specific combination of temperature and pressure needed to create the geyser action means it is very likely that liquid water is not only present, but responsible for carrying heat up through cracks in the ice. The cycle of heating, melting, flexing and erupting is quite violent and spectacular. Plus, space ships traveling to the outer planets have a handy spot to fill up the water tanks. Image by: NASA.

DPS Meeting Day 1: Geysers on Enceladus. [Nobel Intent]

http://io9.com/5064264/liquid-water-could-drive-the-geysers-of-enceladus
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