‘Death Star’ moon could be another place hosting life — Analysis
Saturn’s moon of Mimas is likely hiding an ocean under its surface where alien life could be found, scientists said
The number of places to search for life in our solar system could be expanded as scientists said they’ve discovered “compelling evidence”A “stealth ocean world” on Saturn’s icy moon of Mimas.
So far, Saturn’s Enceladus and Jupiter’s Europa have been considered the prime candidates to host alien life. The signs of geologic activities on both of these icy moons suggest they are capable of supporting liquid water. Water, however, is well-known as the best medium for living.
But Mimas – nicknamed after the ‘Death Star’ space station from the ‘Star Wars’ franchise due to a large crater on its side – hasn’t been showing any signs of such activity, being viewed by astronomers as “just a frozen block of ice.”
Ironically, a study that was out to prove once and for all that Saturn’s innermost moon was geologically dead ended up coming to a completely opposite conclusion.
“Turns out, Mimas’ surface was tricking us”The Southwest Research Institute’s Dr. Alyssa R. Rhoden stated Wednesday that there is evidence to support the idea of a liquid inner ocean on the moon.
You may feel a tiny bit of wobble or “librations” in Mimas’ rotation detected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft can be explained by the moon’s gravitational interactions with Saturn, which produce enough heat to maintain liquefied water under the ice, according to the study published earlier this month in the Icarus journal.
Rhoden and her colleagues developed mathematical models for tidal processes that heat the moon. They suggest that Mimas’ ice shell may reach 22.5 to 32 km.
“Most of the time when we create these models, we have to fine tune them to produce what we observe,”Sie said. “This time evidence for an internal ocean just popped out of the most realistic ice shell stability scenarios and observed librations.”
“Mimas is a compelling target for continued investigation,” Rhoden insisted. Verifying its status as an ocean moon would help the astronomers to better understand Saturn’s rings and “the prevalence of potentially habitable ocean moons, particularly at Uranus,”Elle added.
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