Enceladus Knowledge +1

Credit: NASA/JPL/SWRI/University of Colorado

"Our measurements imply that besides table salt, the grains also contain carbonates like soda. Both components are in concentrations that match the predicted composition of an Enceladus ocean," [Frank] Postberg [Cassini scientist for the cosmic dust analyzer at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany] said. "The carbonates also provide a slightly alkaline pH value. If the liquid source is an ocean, it could provide a suitable environment on Enceladus for the formation of life precursors when coupled with the heat measured near the moon's south pole and the organic compounds found within the plumes."

However, in another study published in Nature, researchers doing ground-based observations did not see sodium, an important salt component. That team notes that the amount of sodium being expelled from Enceladus is actually less than observed around many other planetary bodies. These scientists were looking for sodium in the plume vapor and could not see it in the expelled ice grains. They argue that if the plume vapor does come from ocean water, the evaporation must happen slowly deep underground, rather than as a violent geyser erupting into space.

Read the rest here.

It also well worth taking a peek at the explanation for the diagram above, which outlines several proposed models for Enceladus' plumes. These recent observations have ruled out model A, but the others (or some combination of them) are all candidates of various plausibility.


Geosomin said...

beautiful plumage

*ducks and runs*

Pacian said...

That is an ex-joke. >:-|