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Year in review: Ocean may power Enceladus’ geysers

Evidence favors sea under Saturnian moon’s surface

12:00pm, December 15, 2014

ENCELADUS' OCEAN  This year, data from the Cassini spacecraft strengthened the case for a subsurface ocean on Saturn's moon Enceladus that drives ice geysers on the moon’s south pole.


The case for a saltwater ocean — and a potentially habitable environment — beneath the icy crust of Saturn’s moon Enceladus keeps getting stronger.

Enceladus has been dribbling hints about a subsurface sea since the Cassini spacecraft first visited the moon in 2005. Salty ice geysers erupt through cracks in the south polar ice sheet. Heat wells up through the fissures, presumably from a deep, warm reservoir. But all evidence for an interior sea had been limited to surface observations — until this year.

In April, Luciano Iess of Sapienza University of Rome and colleagues used Cassini data to map an ocean hiding under the moon’s south pole (

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