Hydrothermal mix of heat, water and rock forged silica particles that Saturn’s moon flings into space, researchers argue
The core of Saturn’s moon Enceladus may be cooking the water in its subsurface sea.
Silicon-rich particles embedded in one of Saturn’s rings originated in water on Enceladus that had been heated to at least 90° Celsius, researchers report in the March 12 Nature. The debris probably was dredged up from the bottom of the moon’s ocean by water percolating through the rocky core, and then blasted into space through cracks in the moon’s icy shell (SN: 5/3/14, p. 11). Warm water-rock interactions are found in hydrothermal vents on Earth as well. If they’re occurring on Enceladus, it’s yet another sign that the moon has conditions favorable for life.