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Saturn's Moon Enceladus Has Underground Ocean 51

astroengine (1577233) writes "Gravity measurements made with the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft indicate the small moon Enceladus has an ocean sandwiched between its rocky core and icy shell, a finding that raises the prospects of a niche for life beyond Earth. The Cassini data shows the body of water, which is in the moon's southern hemisphere, must be as large or larger than Lake Superior and sitting on top of the moon's rocky core at a depth of about 31 miles. 'The ocean may extend halfway or more toward the equator in every direction,' said planetary scientist David Stevenson, with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena."
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Saturn's Moon Enceladus Has Underground Ocean

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  • Life? I doubt it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @04:47AM (#46658965) Homepage

    Its a tiny moon with very little energy internally and the rocky core has probably remained unchanged since the solar system was formed which means its unlikely to have much in the way of complex chemicals to kickstart anything. I doubt there's any subduction of the ice crust like on Europa so there's no way for anything to get down there either. If I was to lay money on it I'd say that water was about as sterile as you can get.

    But I hope I'm wrong.

  • Re:Life? I doubt it. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2014 @06:51AM (#46659439)

    Already pre-existing life adapting to living there is one thing - evolving there from base chemicals is another entirely.

    Except that hydrothermal vents are suspected to be a good contender for where life on Earth first evolved. [nature.com]

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell