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Saturn's moon has underground ocean

8 February 2024 21:45 (UTC+04:00)
Saturn's moon has underground ocean

Saturn's moon Mimas is known for its uncanny resemblance to the terrifying death star from the original Star Wars movie. According to the researchers, the moon has another interesting difference: an underground ocean hidden under the icy and cratered outer shell of the moon, Azernews reports, citing foreign media outlets.

Astronomers said Wednesday that data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft on the rotation and orbit of Mimas confirms the existence of an ocean of liquid water under a layer of ice 12 to 19 miles (20 to 30 km) thick. In their opinion, this ocean was formed quite recently on a cosmic scale – 25 million years ago.

Given that the first living organisms on Earth appeared billions of years ago in the pristine seas of our planet, this discovery makes Mima an attractive place to study the conditions that could lead to the emergence of life.

Valerie Laney, an astronomer at the Paris Observatory and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature, said that Mimas, at first glance, is the most difficult place to find liquid water in the Solar system. The satellite looks old and inactive, and there are many craters on it.

Mimas is the smallest in the Solar System compared to Saturn's Enceladus and Titan, Jupiter's Europa. Some other celestial bodies, including Jupiter's moon Callisto, are suspected of having underground oceans.

Cassini, which studied Saturn and its moons, ended its "life" in 2017, plunging into the atmosphere of a giant ringed planet. His observations of the icy surface of Mimas revealed no oceanic deformation. The researchers found that some aspects of its orbit can also be explained by the presence of an internal ocean.

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