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Still Waters

A Fizzy Ocean on Enceladus

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For years researchers have been debating whether Enceladus, a tiny moon floating just outside Saturn's rings, is home to a vast underground ocean. Is it wet--or not? Now, new evidence is tipping the scales. Not only does Enceladus likely have an ocean, that ocean is probably fizzy like a soft drink and could be friendly to microbial life.

The story begins in 2005 when NASA's Cassini probe flew past Enceladus for a close encounter.

"Geophysicists expected this little world to be a lump of ice, cold, dead, and uninteresting," says Dennis Matson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Boy, were we surprised!"

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Wow thats really interesting information ..I think for awhile alot of people have held hopes that Enceladus or Europa might be the first places in our Solar system where we could detect life, I guess now Enceladus goes to the top of the list, followed by Europa & Titan

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Erupting jets, uderground oceans and even the possibility of life. Facinating and strange at the same time.

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I hope, in my lifetime, they'll be able to send a rover capable of burrowing through the ice and explore what is now believed to be an underground ocean. We might see interesting new species in addition to possible bacterial life..

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I hope, in my lifetime, they'll be able to send a rover capable of burrowing through the ice and explore what is now believed to be an underground ocean. We might see interesting new species in addition to possible bacterial life..

That would just blow us all away.

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we all want to know the answer to the question does life exist beyond planet earth. Enceladus, Europa and Titan all excellent contenders to answer the question, yet with what little money space agencies have - they spend it going to Mars. sending rover after rover, lander after lander. with two thirds of probes sent to mars crashing or burning up. going to and landing on a moon would be much easier, (right or wrong)

we should have been on these moons at least ten years ago imagine if we had been there - and found life - money for space exploration would have flooded in, and everyone would have been a winner.

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Thats what we call a discovery,

I am just waiting now until that Soda Can is opened :P

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Hydrochloric acid can fizz. Gonna find life there?

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Maybe. They've found microbes happily thriving away in sulphuric acid before.

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There is a chance living organism like fish could live there. There is even a chance that intelligent amphibious life lives there. The ramifications are amazing, that there is two intelligent species living so close to each. One space age and the other primitive and cut off from the rest of the sol system. There is many possibilities considering we can see under that thick ice.

But I will not get my hopes up, the I best we can hope for is just fish. If there isn't any organism, that is the biggest pit stop in the solar system for fresh clean water which can be used to restock once humanity reaches the space age.

Edited by Phox

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Wow that is an awesome and amazing discovery, hopefully the next discovery will be actual organisms :P

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(1) Smaller, inner moon Mimas experiences 2/3rds more Tidal Acceleration than bigger, outer moon Enceladus

The Gravity Force is Fg = G MJupiter mmoon / r2. The Differential Gravity ("Tidal") Force, therefore, is dFg = d(Fg)/dr x D, where D is the diameter of the moon. For, since the Gravity Force decreases steadily, with increasing separation distance, the Gravity Force on the inside limb of the moon is larger than that on the outside limb of the moon. The actual Differential Gravity ("Tidal") Force is simply the difference, between the Gravity Forces affecting each opposite face of the moon. But, since orbital distances (r) are thousands of times larger than moon diameters (D), its simpler, and still quite accurate, to approximate that difference, with the above differential.

The relative Tidal Force, then, between Mimas vs. Enceladus, is the mathematical ratio, of the above formula, applied to the both of them. When you cancel out all the constants (G, MJupiter), as well as the moon masses themselves -- calculating, thereby, the relative Tidal Accelerations -- you get the ratio:

(r
enceladus
/ r
mimas
)
3
x (D
mimas
/ D
enceladus
)

Plugging in all the numbers (Enceladus, Mimas), one obtains the final result of 1.66 (~5/3rds). Thus, despite being slightly smaller, the inner moon Mimas is stretched "2/3rds harder" than the bigger, outer moon Enceladus.

(2) outer moon Enceladus much warmer than inner moon Mimas

Mimas' surface temperature varies between 77 to 92 K (NASA). Enceladus' surface temperature varies between 70 to 85 K (NASA), slightly colder than its inner, and more tidally heated, companion, as expected. Never-the-less, Enceladus' south pole is anomalously warm, showing surface temperatures as high as 110 K. And, Enceladus' "tiger stripe" fissure formations, all over its surface, have geysers blazing at 190 K (OP + APOD). Why?

Mimas has a low density (1.15 g/cm3), indicating that it is "composed mostly of water ice, with only a small amount of rock". By contrast, Enceladus has a higher density (1.61 g/cm3), a density "higher than Saturn's other mid-sized icy satellites, indicating that Enceladus contains a greater percentage of silicates and iron". Thus, "with additional material besides water ice, Enceladus's interior may have experienced comparatively more heating from the decay of radioactive elements". Perhaps, then, Mimas is a frozen ice-cube, whereas Enceladus is a still-warm 'super-comet' muddy snowball. Or, perhaps rock-on-rock (tidal) friction generates much more energy, than ice-on-ice (tidal) friction.

(3) Inner moon Mimas is cooled by 'Wind-Chill' effect from passage through Saturn's rings ?

mimaswindchill.jpg

Edited by Widdekind

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I think I made a slight mistake -- the leading and sides of Mimas look 'wind-chill cooled'. Such is more consistent, with a 'wind-chill effect', of a 'ring dust wind', which is 'thin', and sweeps around the sides of the moon, as it passes through Saturn's rings:

mimaswindchill2.jpg

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soda lake from super mario world

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If i'm not mistaken I thought I saw words like "suggests" and "could be" in this article...screw it, lets put on our shoes and run with it.

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