NASA scientists have been taking a closer look at Saturn’s moon Mimas thanks to Cassini’s roving eyes, and they have made an interesting discovery: it could have an ocean of water beneath its surface.
The researchers have noticed that the moon has a more pronounced wobble than they thought as it orbits Saturn. Comparing the observed new wobble to computational models suggests one of two possibilities: either the moon has a frozen core shaped like a football, or the satellite contains a liquid water ocean beneath its surface.
The ocean theory would require a global sea, around 30km below the surface, to explain the strange wobble. However, the scientists reckon that — given the surface conditions of the moon — it’s more likely that its core is an unusual shape.
If it is a result of water, it won’t be the first moon in the Solar System to prove damp. Enceladus, for instance, jets out water at its south pole, while Titan has a network of rivers and lakes — though they’re filled with liquid ethane and methane, not water.
Further modelling and inspection by Cassini will likely decide which theory is most likely. [NASA]
Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute