Scientists estimate the thickness of the snow cover on Enceladus

(ORDO NEWS) — Saturn’s moon Enceladus is considered one of the most suitable places for the development of life in the entire solar system.

Beneath its icy surface lies an ocean of salty liquid water, which from time to time erupts to the surface in geysers spouting from deep cracks.

These emissions contain nitrogen, methane, carbon dioxide, and even primitive organic compounds. Unfortunately, it is still hardly possible to reach the ocean and view it directly.

To do this, you will need not only to get to Enceladus, but also to break through the ice crust, the thickness of which can reach 20-25 kilometers.

No wonder scientists propose to determine the presence of life without landing on a satellite, by analyzing the gases emitted by it.

Descent and work on the surface is further complicated by the loose snow that covers Enceladus.

Emissions from local geysers partially fly into space and replenish one of Saturn’s rings. However, most of this matter falls back to the surface, accumulating on it.

The safety of landing on Enceladus depends on the depth and density of this layer. Such work was recently carried out by American scientists.

Scientists estimate the thickness of the snow cover on Enceladus 2 1
Chains of potholes on different bodies of the solar system

Emily Martin (Emily Martin) and her colleagues drew attention to one of the features of the surface of Enceladus, numerous chains of potholes.

Similar systems are known on other celestial bodies, including Mars and the Earth. They are formed due to the collapse of loose soil, snow or other material into voids hidden under it.

The diameter, steepness of the slopes, and other details of the geometry of such pits depend on the thickness and density of the loose layer.

After studying the formation of chains of ruts in Iceland, the scientists compared the findings with what can be observed on Enceladus.

As a result, they concluded that the thickness of the snow cover on its surface reaches hundreds of meters, up to 700 meters in some areas.

Scientists have calculated that for the accumulation of such a layer, geysers would have to act with the same force as they do now for 4.5 billion years – as long as the satellite exists.

This is hard to believe, so the authors believe that Enceladus was more active in the past than it is today.


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