Found evidence of hydrothermal activity on Enceladus, which increase the likelihood that the icy moon of Saturn can support life. Scientists have found microscopic particles of rock near the planet. Their occurrence is associated with hydrothermal processes, when the ocean water penetrates into the crust and reacts with rocks. The study was published in the journal Nature.
Scientists from the University of Colorado in boulder analyzed particles detected by the spacecraft Cassini in the vicinity of Saturn. Within four years, experts conducted laboratory experiments and made a computer model.
First geological activity on Enceladus was registered by Cassini in 2005. The unit was noticed at the South pole of the satellite emission of water vapour. It was later discovered geysers, throwing out the ice particles, salt and organic matter.
In 2014 scientists said the gravitational measurements show that Enceladus liquid ocean, with a depth of about 10 kilometers, is hidden under a 30-40-kilometer-thick ice.
Found particles of rock were rich in silicon. Scientists have determined that it is grains of silica, occurring in earthly sand. Particle size (a few nanometers) have suggested, what geological processes led to their formation. On Earth the most common source of formation of grains of silica of this size is hydrothermal activity.
The researchers found that the dust is likely formed by the interaction of hot water containing dissolved minerals, colder water of Enceladus. The formation of these granules require heating water to a temperature of at least 90 degrees Celsius.
Scientists say that trying to find an alternative explanation for the emergence of silicon dust, but the results always pointed to a single, most probable origin of the – activity of thermal springs. The study confirmed that in the ocean of Enceladus has all the necessary conditions conducive to the existence of living organisms.
The discovery means that the search for extraterrestrial life may need not on distant planets, and next, within our Solar system. published