Skip to content

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >

Hello Enceladus! Forget Mars, here's where extraterrestrial life can be found in the solar system

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes
Enceladus overtakes Mars with discovery of ocean.

Astronomers believe they have found proof that Saturn's icy moon Enceladus hosts a deep saltwater ocean. Scientists say that of such an ocean exists, it may be the most likely place in the solar system, rather than on Mars, to find life elsewhere besides Earth.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
4/4/2014 (7 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Enceladus, Saturn, life, moon, ocean, water

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Astronomers studying gravitational measurements of Enceladus say they have found evidence that a deep saltwater ocean may exist under the thick icy surface of Saturn's pearl-white moon.

The measurements were made with the Cassini space probe which has been looping through the Saturn system since 2004. The measurements suggest that a 10km-deep ocean of water exists deep under the ice on Enceladus.

St. Dominic, the patron saint of astronomers.

Gravitational measurements allow scientists to map the interior of planets and moons because different materials of varying densities have an influence on gravity. As the probe swept past the moon on several passes, scientists noticed that it was being slowed or sped up at different times. Measuring this subtle shift in radio waves allowed them to map the interior of the moon.

Scientists also know that water exists on Enceladus because in 2005 they captured jets of water vapor spewing from the moon's south pole.

The jets of water and the gravitational mapping results suggests that an ocean of water may exist beneath the ice, heated by underwater volcanism. The gravitational squeeze exerted on Enceladus as it orbits Saturn keeps the interior of the moon hot which means temperatures beneath the ice are warm enough to allow liquid water to exist.

Enceladus joins Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter as another body with liquid water, yet Enceladus has one distinctive feature that Europa lacks, that is the water on Enceladus is rich with organic molecules.

Wherever water exists, there too could be life. Water in the essential medium, so far as biologists know, where life can evolve. Scientists are keen to answer the question of how common - or rare life is in the universe. It is very likely that the ocean on Enceladus is sterile. Yet being rich in organic molecules, the kind thought to be present before life was created on Earth, makes Enceladus the best possible candidate for life within the solar system, aside from Earth itself.

The next step will be to plan a mission to the icy moon. Such planning could easily take a decade or more. Still, the recent discovery moves Enceladus to the front of the pack for priority simply because scientists are very anxious to know.

---


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'


Copyright 2021 - Distributed by Catholic Online

To all our readers, Please don't scroll past this.

Deacon Keith Fournier Today, we humbly ask you to defend Catholic Online's independence. 98% of our readers don't give; they simply look the other way. If you donate just $5.00, or whatever you can, Catholic Online could keep thriving for years. Most people donate because Catholic Online is useful. If Catholic Online has given you $5.00 worth of knowledge this year, take a minute to donate. Show the volunteers who bring you reliable, Catholic information that their work matters. If you are one of our rare donors, you have our gratitude and we warmly thank you. Help Now >

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

BOGO 50% off Face Mask with Cross
Free Online Catholic Classes for Anyone, Anywhere - Click Here

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!