EVIDENCE that may point to an ocean inside Saturn’s innermost moon has been discovered by scientists.
Experts from the Southwest Research Institute were studying the tiny moon called Mimas for different reasons when they detected signs of an inner ocean.
SwRI’s Dr Alyssa Rhoden said: “If Mimas has oceans, it represents a class of small, ‘stealth’ ocean worlds whose surface does not betray the existence of oceans.”
Saturn is thought to have 82 moons, but some are more remarkable than others.
It has a large moon called Enceladus that’s getting attention recently because methane has been detected on it.
Methane levels match the concentrations of microorganisms, which could be a sign of life on Enceladus or just evidence of a chemical process we don’t yet fully understand.
Enceladus is also said to have an inner ocean.
Beneath the moon’s icy surface, it is thought that there is a salty subsurface ocean.
This water spills over the icy crust sometimes in giant plumes.
Nasa, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency sent a space probe called Cassini to dive through these gas plumes.
This is how large amounts of methane are detected as well as other molecules such as carbon dioxide.
It is thought that there are many other worlds with oceans beneath their rock layers in our Solar System.
This includes Jupiter’s moon Europa.
These are called Inner Water Ocean Worlds (IWOWs).
However, Mimas, Saturn’s minor moon, is not thought to be one of them and is mostly more famous for looking like the Death Star from Star Wars.
“Because the surface of Mimas is very scaly, we thought it was just a frozen block of ice,” explains Rhoden.
“IWOWs, such as Enceladus and Europa, tend to be faulted and show other signs of geological activity.
“As it turned out, the surface of Mimas tricked us, and our new understanding has greatly expanded the definition of a habitable world in our solar system and beyond.”
The researchers suggest that ‘tidal heating’ in the inner ocean is keeping it from freezing but not melting the thick crust of ice.
Understanding more about the frigid ocean world could help us find a habitable ocean moon someday.
Rhoden concludes: “Evaluating Mimas’ status as an oceanic moon will benchmark models of its formation and evolution.
“This will help us better understand Saturn’s rings and mid-sized moons, and the prevalence of potentially habitable moons in the oceans, particularly Uranus. Mimas. is an attractive target for further investigation.”
An article on the research was published on Icarus . Magazine.
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https://www.the-sun.com/tech/4506577/hidden-internal-ocean-saturn-moon-mimas/ Evidence of a GENERAL hidden in our Solar System has been discovered – it could be a new ‘stealth’ world