So part of my science news diet consists of daily new pictures from the HiRISE Probe, which is currently returning photos of the surface of Mars. While the mission has a lot of purposes, finding potential sites that contain or once contained water is definitly high on the list. Here’s a cool one today, which has false color for your viewing pleasure. The black and white one on the right sidebar is really cool too. It may be an ancient lakebed. I said may.
In other wet news, the Cassini-Huygens probe successfully buzzed Saturns moon Enceladus yesterday at a height of 50 kilometers (30 miles) and a speed of 14.4 kilometers per second (32,000 miles per hour). Good work, yall. The data is back on earth, and is being analysed today. The reason they’re doing this is that Enceladus seems to have jets of ice spewing out of it!?!?!??. Here’s what they write about it:
“There are two types of particles coming from Enceladus, one pure water-ice, the other water-ice mixed with other stuff,” said Sascha Kempf, deputy principal investigator for Cassini’s Cosmic Dust Analyzer at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany. “We think the clean water-ice particles are being bounced off the surface and the dirty water-ice particles are coming from inside the moon. This flyby will show us whether this concept is right or wrong.”
In 2005, Cassini’s multiple instruments discovered that this icy outpost is gushing water vapor geysers out to a distance of three times the radius of Enceladus. The moon is only 500 kilometers (310 miles) in diameter, but despite its petite size, it’s one of the most scientifically compelling bodies in our solar system. The icy water particles are roughly one ten-thousandth of an inch, or about the width of a human hair. The particles and gas escape the surface at jet speed at approximately 400 meters per second (800 miles per hour). The eruptions appear to be continuous, refreshing the surface and generating an enormous halo of fine ice dust around Enceladus, which supplies material to one of Saturn’s rings, the E-ring.
That’s so great. If Enceladus has a subterranean ocean, it might have some kind of fish, which is important because they could be really delicious.