Friday, October 24, 2014

Moon of Saturn may have water



Time now again for Science Friday, ESE style.

It has been jokingly referred to as "The Death Star."

Mimas, one of Saturn's smaller moons, has an enormous impact crater, granting it an appearance similar to that of the giant space station from Star Wars (the big crater looks like the dish-shaped opening for the planet-killing laser that...you get the idea.) Aside from that, space scientists have found Mimas to be rather unremarkable.

Now the thinking is that Mimas may have water. Mimas wobbles significantly as it orbits Saturn. So much so that data obtained by the Cassini space probe suggests that there must something in the moon's core to cause such a wobble. It is strongly suspected that this "something" is an ocean of liquid water cloistered within Mimas' center.

In a previous post, I blogged about a study that found that over 50% of Earth's water actually came from space, suggesting that water itself is likely more plentiful in the universe than we might have originally suspected. The oceanic core of Mimas, though not conclusively proven yet, would be a moon-sized glop of evidence heaped onto that line of thinking.

Of course whenever we talk about water in space, there is a certain accompanying level of excitement. Our myopic tendencies bring us to the axiom "where there is water, there is life." I could go on to explain how that's a narrow means of thinking, but that would take away from a post on Mimas. Suffice to say that the chances of life in the center of that Saturn moon are very slim, but this finding is significant in and of itself.

And it would further demonstrate how little we know about our own solar system as well as tantalize us with the prospects of further discoveries in the vast cosmos.



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