Wonder of the Solar System: Icy Geysers and Liquid Water on Enceladus
One of the most astonishing discoveries recently made by the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn were the icy geysers on the moon Enceladus. The geysers form a magnificent plume extending hundreds of kilometers above the south pole of the moon. The observational data, along with theoretical analysis, indicate that the plume is built of vapor jets, with entrained ice particles, that spurt into space from caves above a subsurface liquid water ocean. This water reservoir, enriched in minerals and organics, makes Enceladus a prime target for the search of extraterrestrial life in the Solar System. Here we narrate how mathematical modelling, combined with experimental data, allows us to understand the physical foundations of this spectacular phenomenon.
KeywordsSolar System Vapor Density Molecular Cage Tiger Stripe Specific Latent Heat