Science News

Saturn's Lop-sided Satellite

Sun, 2nd Apr 2006

Part of the show Brainwashing and the Science of Pain

An underground ocean may have caused one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus, to topple over by destabilising its spin. Using data from the Cassini spacecraft, Robert Pappalardo and Francis Nimmo from the University of California in Los Angeles discovered the ocean through the presence of geysers in the moon's icy crust. The geysers are currently at the south pole of Enceladus, but the researchers believe that they began life at the the equator. As the hot, low density ocean water broke through the ice to form the geyser, the moon's spin was disrupted and caused the whole moon to tumble. The result was the geyser finally settling in its present place on the south pole. Luckily this is unlikely to happen on Earth due to its massive size, so Caribbean cruisers can leave their Arctic jackets at home!


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