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Saturn's Other Moon Dione May Have Subsurface Ocean

Oct 03, 2016 05:14 AM EDT
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As more information are gathered about the ringed planet Saturn and its moons, more surprising discoveries are revealed as well. After Titan having the "right chemistry" for life, another Saturn moon called Dione may have water reservoir underground.

Jupiter's moon, Europa was the center of attention when NASA recently announced that it has discovered geysers spewing icy water from the surface of the said moon, indicative of subsurface ocean on the Jovian moon. Findings like this are considered "surprising" as the bodies being investigated are farther away from the Sun. Being able to store huge amounts of water also increases the chance of finding microorganisms or alien life forms. So if subsurface oceans are possible in Europa, theoretically, it might be possible for Dione, too.

Saturn's moon Dione, the fourth frozen moon of the ringed planet, is potentially hiding subsurface oceans; this is based on the finding of a recent study to be published in Geophysical Research Letters. Like Enceladus, another one of Saturn's moon, there could be liquid water under its icy surface, according to the study.

Mikael Beuthe from the Royal Observatory of Belguim used a type of geophysical model to conduct the study using data gathered by NASA's Cassini spacecraft observing Saturn and its moons. The study suggests that an estimated 100-kilometer thick shell is covering a 65-kilometer deep subsurface ocean in Dione.

"For Dione, we did a similar gravity-topography analysis as was done for Enceladus in 2014, but with improved techniques," Mikael Beuthe said in an interview with Gizmodo. "Thus that's the best evidence we have now for a present-day ocean on Dione," Beuthe added.

But the researchers say that it would be more difficult to confirm the existence of subsurface oceans in Dione compared to Enceladus due to its thick crust and spherical shape. Dione might also have a rocky core that can potentially emit heat that could eventually melt the ice.

Aside from the subsurface ocean, other observations by the researchers suggest that, like Mercury, Dione might also have recent geologic activities based on the surface of the moon. These recent findings paved the way for a deeper and longer study focused on confirming the 65-kilometer deep subsurface ocean on Saturn's moon Dione.

Read More:
NASA Spotted Mysterious 'Impossible' Cloud on Titan Again
NASA Captures 4 Saturn Days on Video as Cassini Prepares for its 'Death Dive'
NASA's Cassini Probe Captured Titan's Dunes, Frigid Alien Landscape

 

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