Wednesday, July 30, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Scientists find water inside one of Saturn’s moons

Inside a moon of Saturn, beneath its icy veneer and above its rocky core, is a sea of water the size of Lake Superior, scientists announced Thursday.

The findings, published in the journal Science, confirm what planetary scientists have suspected about the moon, Enceladus, ever since they were astonished in 2005 by photographs showing geysers of ice crystals shooting out of its south pole.

“What we’ve done is put forth a strong case for an ocean,” said David J. Stevenson, a professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology and an author of the Science paper.

For many researchers, this tiny, shiny cueball of a moon, just over 300 miles wide, is now the most promising place to look for life elsewhere in the solar system, even more than Mars.

“Definitely Enceladus,” said Larry W. Esposito, a professor of astrophysical and planetary sciences at the University of Colorado, who was not involved in the research. “Because there’s warm water right there now.”

Enceladus is caught in a gravitational tug of war between Saturn and another moon, Dione, which bends its icy outer layer, creating friction and heat. In the years since discovering the geysers, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has made repeated flybys of Enceladus, photographing the fissures (nicknamed tiger stripes) where the geysers originate, measuring temperatures and identifying carbon-based organic molecules that could serve as building blocks for life.

The underground sea is up to six miles thick, much deeper than a lake.

“It’s a lot more water than Lake Superior,” Stevenson said. “It may even be bigger. The ocean could extend all the way to the north pole.”

The conclusion was not a surprise, said Christopher P. McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, who studies the possibility of life on other worlds, but “it confirms in a really robust way what has been sort of the standard model.”

It also makes Enceladus a more attractive destination for a future mission, especially one that would collect samples from the plumes and return them to Earth to see if they contain any microbes.

The discussion on the possibility of extraterrestrial life in the solar system centers on four bodies: Mars; Enceladus; Europa, a moon of Jupiter; and Titan, another moon of Saturn.

McKay, who was not involved with gravity measurements, noted that only Enceladus was known to possess the four essential ingredients for life, at least as it exists on Earth: liquid water, energy, carbon and nitrogen.

“I would say it’s our best bet,” he said.

————

By Kenneth Chang

Comments

comments

New York Times News Service

.

News

 
 
Mosquito districts sprays tonight

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Bob Dunning: Poll dancing, direct from Las Vegas

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

 
Health premiums rose significantly in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Movies in the Park return this fall

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

Center for Families hosts Summer Carnival

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Vintage car show planned this fall

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis native named a Schweitzer Fellow

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Biggest book sale to date opens Friday at Davis library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Share your love of nature with young wetlands visitors

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Tasting event benefits Yolo Land Trust

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

DHS Class of ’94 set 20th reunion

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Tips, techniques will give you a green thumb

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Grief support focuses on journaling

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
How the Bockler wasp got its name

By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Kiwanis golf tournament supports local agencies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Drop off school supplies at Edward Jones offices

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Wine-tastings will benefit YCCC

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Yolo County CASA seeks volunteer child advocates

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

UC Davis alumnus hopes to bring amateur radio to Nepal

By Rachel Uda | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Recycle old paint cans for free

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

.

Forum

Not sure which direction to go

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Violence as entertainment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Shocked at vampires story

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Paul Krugman: Corporate artful dodgers

By Paul Krugman | From Page: A6

Nicholas Kristof: The world’s coolest places

By Nicholas Kristof | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Gravel mining affects us all

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

A’s rally to win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Morse homers but Giants lose 6th straight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Nightmare on Ballpark Drive for River Cats

By Will Bellamy | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Fiona Buck pushes the limits in para-athletics

By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Schaub settles in as Raiders starting QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Features

.

Arts

Brady earns top honors at State Fair

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Smither releases new CD Saturday at The Palms

By Kate Laddish | From Page: A9 | Gallery

RootStock kicks off ‘Día de Albariño’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Folk musicians will jam in the Arboretum

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

YoloArts to host a state of change exhibit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
UCD professor Andy Jones named Davis’ new poet laureate

By Rachel Uda | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Molten art on display at Davis Arts Center

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Calvin D. Rourke

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6