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Archive for Friday, March 10, 2006

Water may exist on one of Saturn’s moons

March 10, 2006

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The Cassini spacecraft has found compelling signs that reservoirs of liquid water exist within 100 feet of the surface of Saturn's cold, tiny moon Enceladus, greatly adding to the chances that microbial life exists beyond Earth.

The spacecraft took images of geysers of water vapor and ice particles shooting 267 miles into space from blue vents in the moon's south polar region, says the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which operates the probe.

Scientists theorize that some form of energy is forcing the water to explode from the vents. The water turns to gas and ice crystals as soon as it encounters the vacuum of space and Enceladus' surface temperatures, which fall to minus 330 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scientists say it's also possible that liquid water exists deep below the surface of two moons of Jupiter, as well as beneath Titan, the largest of Saturn's 47 known moons. And there has been speculation that there is liquid water far below the surface of Mars.

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