The Geysers of Enceladus
"Bottled water companies take note: an exotic form of warm, bubbly mineral water could be what feeds the mysterious jets spraying from the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus."
Universe Today Download time: Oct 6 2010 9:05 AM ET
Bottled water companies take note: an exotic form of warm, bubbly mineral water could be what feeds the mysterious jets spraying from the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus. A new model of the sub-surface ocean explains how the small moon could be so cryo-volcanically active. The Cassini spacecraft has detected sodium and potassium salts, as well as carbonates in the water vapor plumes spewing from the moon, which indicates a liquid, bubbly subsurface ocean. "There is a plume chamber, where some of the bubbles can pop the cap of the thin ice crust, and through that process is how the plumes get sprayed out," said Dennis Matson, a NASA planetary scientist from JPL, speaking at a press briefing at the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Pasadena, California.
The schematic image (top) is laid on top of a picture of the Enceladus jets taken by Cassini's imaging cameras in November 2009. It shows bubbles in subsurface seawater traveling through a passage in the ice crust to feed a geyser. The water flows back down to the subsurface ocean through cracks in the ice.
Matson explained the process:…