The distant planet Saturn has 66 moons, but one called Enceladus has frequently caught scientists and astronomers attention. For one thing, it is really bright when compared to the other moons. This is the light being reflected off of it from the sun. Enceladus has almost a mirror-like complexion going on, which is why scientists have long theorized that Enceladus may have ice and under this harbor huge oceans. That’s oceans, like liquid water, also known as one of the most famous building blocks for life. The Voyager spacecrafts did confirm that ice was on the planet’s surface. Now, NASA’s Cassini space probe has gone a step farther by discovering an ocean. The answer has been a long time coming.
Back in 2008, Cassini confirmed that there was water on Enceladus, and it also confirmed that it was quite ordinary water, just like you would find here on Earth. However, they were unable to determine just how much water might be lurking there. Now, Cassini has found evidence that there is a lot more water than what they originally thought, enough, in fact, to be a full-fledged ocean. It may even stretch across the entire moon. In some areas, the water could be lukewarm or even hot. This has scientists bristling at the idea that life could exist on the moon. Like Europa, a satellite of Jupiter that also is suspected to feature oceans, everything seems to be in place for the possibility for life to arise.
While Cassini will not be close enough to determine much more (or to discover microorganisms roaming the Enceladus surface), the evidence it has discovered may be exciting enough to get the wheels turning on a project to actually attempt to land a probe on the moon. This could open up the chance of drilling through the ice and finding out if anyone is home.