Proud day for the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic Oceans. You aren’t alone out there, Water Bros.
Nope, last night NASA announced it found proof of a global ocean elsewhere in the solar system.
The Cassini space probe, which has been orbiting Saturn for over a decade, found that beneath its icy shell, the moon Enceladus has an ocean that covers its entire surface.
Researchers deduced this by observing the moon’s wobble, which strongly implies it is not solid ice down to its core. From NASA:
Previous analysis of Cassini data suggested the presence of a lens-shaped body of water, or sea, underlying the moon’s south polar region. However, gravity data collected during the spacecraft’s several close passes over the south polar region lent support to the possibility the sea might be global. The new results — derived using an independent line of evidence based on Cassini’s images — confirm this to be the case.
The uneven rotation of Enceladus is what helped bring this discovery to light.
“If the surface and core were rigidly connected, the core would provide so much dead weight the wobble would be far smaller than we observe it to be,” said Matthew Tiscareno, a Cassini participating scientist at the SETI Institute, Mountain View, California, and a co-author of the paper. “This proves that there must be a global layer of liquid separating the surface from the core.”
Basically, astronomy is like a V.I.C. song. It’s thought that the ocean stays unfrozen due to the heat generated from the tidal forces Saturn exerts on the planet. It’s much, much closer to Saturn than the moon is to the Earth. And smaller, about one-seventh the size of our moon.
What could be swimming in this ocean? Super cold space whales? Probably. Thankfully, Cassini isn’t done collecting information on Enceladus. Next month, it will pass within 30 miles of the moon’s surface.
Maybe a space whale will wave to it.