Friday, June 26, 2009

Ocean hidden inside Saturn's moon

By MALCOLM RITTER - AP Science Writer

Scientists have found new evidence that one of Saturn’s moons has an ocean beneath its surface. That’s important because liquid water is a key ingredient for life.

The moon is an icy body called Enceladus (en-SELL-uh-duss.) It gives off huge plumes of water vapor and ice grains, and scientists used the Cassini spacecraft to sample material from those jets.

They found particles containing sodium salts, which indicates that the plumes arise from liquid water.

But a second team of scientists found no sign of sodium with a different sampling method. They concluded there could still be a deep ocean on Enceladus, but that there are also other possible explanations for the moon’s jets.Both papers are reported in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

Scientists have found new evidence that one of Saturn's moons has an ocean beneath its surface. That's important because liquid water is a key ingredient for life. (AP/NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

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