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Space & Astronomy

Scientists discover subsurface ocean on Dione

By T.K. Randall
October 5, 2016 · Comment icon 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.

Source: RedOrbit | Comments (6)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by McNessy 6 years ago
So the old Sci Fi Theme that the Aliens are stealing Earths water is no good any more Becoming apparent with so many other planets and solar systems being discovered water in its liquid form seems to be everywhere.
Comment icon #2 Posted by samsquanchesISreel 6 years ago
Not so fast McNessy, if I were an alien species seeking liquid water, I'd rather not have to drill through (or laser blast) my way through miles of ice to get to it, let alone be getting it from a lifeless world anyway, if there's no life there's likely something wrong with he water and suddenly this water seems way more trouble than it's worth. However, there's a little blue planet with plenty of water and life on it so that's two positive factors, plus my lasers work way better on people and buildings than on 60 mile thick ice-sheets. What about melting the ice, too much trouble, let's melt ... [More]
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
Fortunately any alien species capable of interstellar travel are likely to be a lot more sensible than your post.
Comment icon #4 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
It's sort of a shame we didn't know this before we put so much time, effort and money into Mars.  Saturn and Jupiter are sounding much more interesting.  A bit harder and longer in time to get to, but maybe more interesting.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
It would have made no difference at all. Mars may still be where we first find traces of extraterrestrial life. It is easier and cheaper to explore. We still do not have the capability to send a spacecraft capable of drilling through the ice of any of these moons. We have not mapped them in any where enough detail to even know if spacecraft can be safely landed there. Science progress is generally made in a series of small, logical steps, which is exactly how the robotic exploration of the solar system is proceeding. It would be foolish and potentially counter productive to abandon that approa... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by stevewinn 6 years ago
exactly, Mars is Mars still much to discover but its clear the moons such as Europa hold out much better hope of finding life. and as the budgets get smaller and the cost of tech increasing it would be better to put more resources into exploring places such as Europa. because if life is found you can guarantee there would be an increase in NASA's budget.  


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