Saturn’s moon Dione might harbor an underground ocean | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.

News in Brief

Saturn’s moon Dione might harbor an underground ocean

3:20pm, October 7, 2016
moon Dione

An ocean might lurk under the ice of Saturn’s moon Dione, seen in this 2015 image from the Cassini spacecraft with Saturn and its rings in the background.

Sponsor Message

A satellite of Saturn joins the club of moons with possible oceans. A subsurface sea of water might hide beneath the icy crust of Dione, one of Saturn’s moons, researchers report online October 9 in Geophysical Research Letters. That puts Dione in good company alongside Enceladus (another moon of Saturn) and several moons of Jupiter, as well as possibly Pluto (SN Online: 9/23/16).

Dione’s ocean is about 100 kilometers below the surface and roughly 65 kilometers deep, Mikael Beuthe, a planetary scientist at the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels, and colleagues report. They inferred the ocean’s presence from measurements of Dione’s gravity made by the Cassini spacecraft.


M. Beuthe, A. Rivoldini and A. Trinh. Enceladus's and Dione's floating ice shells supported by minimum stress isostasy. Geophysical Research Letters. Published online October 9, 2016. doi: 10.1002/2016GL070650. 

Further Reading

C. Crockett. Europa spouting off again. Science News Online, September 26, 2016. 

C. Crockett. A salty sea could lurk beneath the heart of Pluto. Science News Online, September 23, 2016.

A. Witze. Year in review: Global ocean spans Enceladus. Science News. Vol. 188, December 26, 2015, p. 23.  

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More on Cassini mission to Saturn