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Enceladus; Everything you need to know about Saturn’s icy moon

At least 101 geysers spew icy material from beneath the surface of Enceladus into space. Gravitational forces and the interaction of this moon with its parent planet Saturn cause its gaps to open and close. When Enceladus is farthest from Saturn, the geysers become more powerful, but their gas output does not increase. This evidence is exactly opposite to the expectations of scientists and is proof of interesting activities.

Since the Cassini probe entered Saturn’s orbit in 2004, the output of at least some of Enceladus’ geysers has decreased, but the exact cause is still unclear. Although this frozen moon would normally have to be too cold for liquid water to flow, the ammonia in the material ejected from Enceladus could act as an antifreeze, preventing water below the moon’s surface from freezing.

The diameter of Enceladus is only one seventh of the diameter of Earth’s moon. This moon is the sixth and heaviest moon of Saturn; Like most elliptical bodies, Enceladus’ equatorial side is slightly more convex due to the gravitational effects of rotation. Since this moon is relatively small and receives the least gravitational effect on its surface, scientists were surprised to discover an atmosphere in it. Enceladus’ atmosphere is dominated by the south pole and the warmer part of this moon.

Enceladus facts

According to a 2019 study, Enceladus is probably close to a billion years old. For this reason, it becomes a perfect destination for searching for life. However, the existing researches are only based on computer simulations and it is difficult to reach the real age of Enceladus. Based on preliminary research, they estimated that Enceladus and some other moons of Saturn were probably formed 100 million years ago.

Enceladus, which is located between the moons Mimas and Tethys, is approximately 238 thousand kilometers from Saturn. It takes about 33 hours for Enceladus to complete its orbit around Saturn. Like Earth’s moon, this moon has a tidal lock with respect to Saturn, or in other words, it is always on one side of Enceladus towards Saturn. Enceladus also has an orbital resonance, whereby the gravitational interaction between Enceladus and one of Saturn’s larger moons, Dione, causes the moons to align with each other at regular intervals. Dione is probably the cause of the lethal heating of Enceladus, and for this reason, it can be considered responsible for the liquid ocean under the surface of Enceladus.


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