An ocean of liquid water was discovered a hundred kilometers deep on the moon Dione, a moon orbiting Saturn, said Thursday the Royal Observatory of Belgium. This discovery is not the first of its kind, as two other moons of Saturn, Titan and Enceladus, also have an underground ocean.
The surface of the moon Dione is covered with an ice crust. One hundred kilometers underneath the crust, is an ocean of liquid water to a depth of several kilometers around the rocky core of the moon. “Dione’s ocean probably exists since the beginning of the history of the moon. It thus constitutes a potentially habitable zone for sustainable microbial life, because the contact between the ocean and the rocky core is critical. This relationship provides minerals and a source of energy, which are two essential ingredients for life,” says Attilio Rivoldini, a researcher at the Royal Observatory of Belgium.
This discovery was made possible by the Cassini spacecraft, which arrived in 2004 in the vicinity of Saturn. The probe went into orbit around the planet and collect useful data for researchers.
Dione’s ocean is too deep to get there, but Enceladus, another moon of Saturn, regularly spews out water vapors from its ocean into space that can be collected by passing a sensor through the vapors. Titan, another moon of Saturn, also has an underground ocean.
Saturn’s planetary system is composed of several moons that revolve in orbit around it.