Scientists from the California Institute of Technology have found that in the oceans of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, there are turbulent currents, very similar to those on Earth.
Enceladus is a satellite of Saturn, characterized by a regular spherical shape. It is the largest in the series of internal satellites, and its distance from the planet is 237 thousand km
Enceladus is covered in a continuous layer of ice. For a long time it was believed that it was frozen to the ground and is a lifeless ice ball.
The ocean on Enceladus is almost nothing like Earth’s. Earth’s oceans are shallow, about 3.6 km, it does not completely cover our planet and has different temperatures. And Enceladus, apparently, the ocean covers the globe completely: its depth is not less than 30 km and it cools in the upper part, near the ice shell, and heats up below by the heat from the core.
However, the oceans of Enceladus and Earth have one thing in common: they are salty. And as the results of new work showed, fluctuations in salinity can serve as driving forces for the circulation of water both on Enceladus and on Earth. In other words, strong currents take place here and there.
It is now unclear if there is life on Enceladus. It is very far from the Sun, but due to internal geothermal heating, it can have chemosynthetic food webs similar to those found around hydrothermal vents in the deep dark oceans of the Earth. If life lurks in the oceans of Enceladus, the team’s findings may help us figure out where to find it.