Space & Astronomy
Scientists discover subsurface ocean on Dione
By T.K. Randall
October 5, 2016 · 6 comments
Dione was discovered in 1684 by Giovanni Domenico Cassini. Image Credit: NASA / JPL
New research has suggested that another of Saturn's moons is home to a subsurface ocean of liquid water.
The search for life within our own solar system has always centered around the search for liquid water and now Dione, one of the moons of Saturn, appears to have joined the ranks as one of a growing number of nearby worlds believed to be hiding an entire ocean beneath its surface.
Back in 2013, data returned by NASA's Cassini spacecraft suggested that, based on Dione's topography, a subsurface ocean had cracked its icy crust at some point in the distant past.
Now however, researchers from the Royal Observatory of Belgium have used new computer modelling techniques to reveal that this ancient ocean may actually still be there today.
Their findings were based on new gravitational data which appeared consistent with the idea that Dione's icy crust is floating on top of an ocean of liquid water situated 62 miles below its surface.
The discovery means that three of Saturn's moons are now believed to have oceans with the other two being Enceladus and Titan. Jupiter's moon Europa is also another well known example.
Whether there is anything living in the watery depths of these worlds however remains unknown.
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