Something’s cooking on Enceladus | Science News

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Something’s cooking on Enceladus

Hydrothermal mix of heat, water and rock forged silica particles that Saturn’s moon flings into space, researchers argue

2:00pm, March 11, 2015

BUBBLING BREW  Hot water mixing with a rocky core on Enceladus, seen in this artist’s illustration, may be spewing a trail of silica nanoparticles into one of Saturn’s rings.

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.  

Hsiang-Wen Hsu, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder, and colleagues used data collected by the

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