Under the Sea


Earlier this week, scientists at NASA announced that Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, Enceladus, has a warm ocean at its southern pole. More importantly, it has strong evidence of hydrothermal activity on the ocean floor, the first of its kind found outside of Earth. This is a huge discovery because most scientists agree that life on Earth began around these same types of vents in the deep sea. The hydrothermal vents, located at the bottom of an ocean six miles deep, pump nitrogen, methane, carbon dioxide and a host of other compounds that form the building blocks of life as we know it. Interestingly, Enceladus’s hydrothermal vents are generated not by a molten core as they are on earth but by pure friction created from the gravitational pull of Saturn and its other moons.


2 thoughts on “Under the Sea

  1. It is not improbable that such a warm ocean with hydrothermal sea vents could harbor life. In fact there are a number of microorganisms called extremophiles (of the Archaebacteria domain) that actually flourish in areas of intense heat (like hydrothermal vents at the bottom of our own oceans)!


  2. Europa also has an ocean under its icy crust, although its ocean is not warm like that of Enceladus. I wonder if it is a feature of jovian planets to have moons with oceans under icy crusts.


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