content long 14-December-2017 01:14:07

Winners Spain

13-15 years old: Ice plumes at the south pole of Enceladus

 Author: Ángel Gómez Acosta

It has been one of the most important discoveries in the Sky Science. The matter is that on Enceladus, one of the moons of Saturn, there is a great ocean of liquid water. This fact is very important because the water is in the liquid state, it shows us that life can be possible not only in our planet Earth. Actually, we would have never thought that it is possible to find life in a small moon which is a thousand four hundred million kilometres away from our mother star.

Enceladus is a small moon with a diametre of no more than five hundred kilometres, that is located in the system of Saturn. Scientists did not give it much importance, until the space probe Cassini discovered big geysers that launched all the frozen water into space. It was a great news that revolutionized the world of astronomy.

It turned out to be a mystery why Enceladu's Ocean was not frozen. The reason why the water keeps the liquid state is the action caused by the gravitational tides of Saturn that heat Enceladus. That warming is the responsible of the liquid state of water.

Firstly, the mass of water is thought to occupyed only the South polo of Enceladus. However, research made during years thanks to the news taken by the space probe Cassini have revealed us the globality of the ocean. That is to say, it is present under all the surface. Specifically, they studied images taken by the space probe over a period of seven years. With this information,   maps of the moon could be made, in which their geological features are placed. They measured all its rotation changes with much precision. Thanks to this information, a swing was detected on Enceladus when it moves around Saturn. As this moon is not a perfect sphere and the speed of the orbit is not always the same, Saturn pushes it at the same time it rotes, and so it is thought that swing is produced by a mass of global water.

Personally, this is one of the themes that gives me most pleasure about the universe. I love the idea that some types of different life from ours can exist in our own Solar System. It's possible that a lot of people think about complex beings when they hear about “alien life”. Never the less, it is not a matter if they are complex being or bacteria, because the simple incident of finding life beyond Earth is something extraordinary, regardless the discovery. Sometimes, when I think about the mysteries that the universe hides, I can not stop wondering how life beyond Earth will be. For this reason, Enceladus is also one of the most mysterious moons in our Solar System. I hope that life in the universe can be found soon, because that can confirm, once and for all, that we are not alone in this immense universe which is still waiting for us to discover all its secrets.


Last Update: 19 May 2017

For further information please contact: SciTech.editorial@esa.int

Related Articles

See Also