Enceladus as seen by Cassini. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Saturn’s moon Enceladus is a mysterious world. Measuring just 512km in diameter it should be a cold lifeless body, practically unchanged since its formation. Yet it isn’t. It’s very much alive. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has shown that this remarkable moon’s surface has, in parts, been smoothed and altered in the geologically recent past. Images sent back by the probe show great fissures on its surface and, most spectacularly, vast plumes of icy material erupting from its southern hemisphere.
Now scientists studying Enceladus have come to some fascinating conclusions about what could lie beneath its icy crust. In a new article for Sky at Night Magazine I talk to the scientists working on the data from Cassini. I explore their findings which, incredibly, seem to point to a liquid ocean of water under the ice at Enceladus. The article also discusses the various mechanisms which could be creating the plumes. You can read the full story, “Enceladus: water world”, starting on page 68 of the May issue.