NASA Finds Fresh Ice in "Tiger Stripe" Moon's North
Scientists have found evidence that increases the chances of alien life being found on Saturn's sixth-largest moon.
SATURN'S MOON ENCELADUS — Scientists have found evidence that increases the chances of alien life being found on Saturn's sixth-largest moon; an icy ball called Enceladus.
NASA scientists used data from the Cassini space probe to see what new information they could find about Enceladus. They went digging through detailed infrared images and say they've now found strong evidence of areas of fresh ice in the moon's Northern hemisphere. Fresh ice drastically increases the odds of finding alien life on any planet.
This fresh ice is thought to have originated in the moon's interior, and scientists think there must be some kind of mechanism by which the fresh ice could have emerged to cover patches of the moon's ancient ice surface.
Some theorize that these fresh ice patches in the North formed in much the same way as similar patches formed in the South ... by being blown through a series of giant cracks in the moon's surface.
These giant cracks in the South look like tiger stripes. Their data were studied a few years ago.
According to researchers, the 'tiger stripes' are about 130 kilometers long, with fracture lines running parallel to one another, spaced around 35 kilometers apart.
Lead author Doug Hemingway at the Carnegie Institute for Science says that the fissures constantly blow out water and ice, unlike any other formation known to exist on icy moons.
According to the research team, the tiger stripes and the formation's strange behavior is caused by the moon's 'eccentric' orbit around Saturn.
Because Enceladus' distance to Saturn fluctuates, planetary gravity stretches and flexes the moon. This effect generates the heat that keeps Enceladus from freezing solid.
The gravitational force is so powerful that it changes the shape of the moon, with the resulting stress creating the first tiger stripe on Enceladus.
As the moon's surface ocean erupts through the fissure, the jets of water then freeze and fall back on the moon.
The weight of the accumulated ice and snow puts pressure on the nearby ice sheet and breaks the crust on parallel lines. Those fractures become the moon's stripes.
Some scientists theorize that the areas of fresh ice in the Northern hemisphere were formed in a similar way as the Southern fresh ice areas around the Tiger Stripes. However, that theory would be hard to prove, as the Cassini space probe that recorded the data, stopped functioning in 2017.
NEXT ON TOMONEWS
Global Warming Shrinks Arctic Sea Ice to Second-Lowest on Record