Saturn’s moon Dione might harbor an underground ocean

Saturn's 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.

JPL-Caltech/NASA, Space Science Institute

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.

headshot of Associate News Editor Christopher Crockett

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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