New study shows heat below the surface of Saturn's Enceladus moon

New study shows heat below the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus

Saturn's moon Enceladus could be warmer than first thought under its surface

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A new study has shown that the southern region of Saturn's moon Enceladus is most likely warmer than first expected under its surface.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, suggest that the moon's underground ocean could be just a few miles beneath the surface, according to Nasa.

The study was conducted by looking at microwave observations of the south pole region on Enceladus, with data taken from a close flyby by the Cassini spacecraft in 2011.

Three fractures across the pole show a particular excess of heat, although they don't seem to be currently active.

However, this does suggest that the moon has seen activity several times on different areas of its surface.

These findings also coincide with another study which estimated the thickness of the icy crust, suggesting a depth of less than 3 miles at the south pole and a thickness on average around the moon of 11 to 14 miles.

Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker said: "Finding temperatures near these three inactive fractures that are unexpectedly higher than those outside them adds to the intrigue of Enceladus."