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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sea on Enceladus

From NBC News:
NASA's Cassini orbiter has detected the faint signature of a hidden southern ocean beneath the ice of the Saturnian moon Enceladus, confirming past suspicions and sparking fresh speculation about extraterrestrial marine life.

"It makes the interior of Enceladus a very attractive potential place to look for life," said Jonathan Lunine, a planetary scientist at Cornell University and a member of the science team reporting the discovery in this week's issue of the journal Science.

... Iess and his colleagues say the reservoir is a sea of liquid water, buried under 19 to 25 miles (30 to 40 kilometers) of ice. The sea is at least 6 miles (10 kilometers) deep and extends at least halfway up from the south pole toward the equator in every direction.

"This means that it is as large, or larger, than Lake Superior," said Caltech's David Stevenson, another co-author of the Science study.

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