Saturn

Cryovolcanoes Spew Water And Ice On Enceladus

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Enceladus is the sixth largest of Saturn's moons, so it's not particularly remarkable in terms of size. But what it lacks in mass, it makes up for in potential. Its surface is dotted with cryovolcanoes (colloquially known as ice volcanoes), which spew ice particles and water vapor in large plumes. The presence of these cryovolcanoes, at least one of which launches enough water to fill an Olympic swimming pool every few hours, led scientists to ask where the water was coming from. As it turns out, Enceladus has an ocean beneath its icy crust, and that ocean could meet the conditions for sustaining life.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. In 2005, Cassini observed giant plumes of water erupting from the surface of Enceladus. 00:39

  2. The ocean beneath Enceladus's icy crust is theorized to have about the same volume as Lake Superior. 01:42

  3. Liquid water interacting with a rocky bed could lead to chemical reactions that produce nutrients. 02:10

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