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Cassini Spacecraft Reveals 101 Geysers and more on Icy Saturn Moon

Scientists using mission data from NASAs Cassini spacecraft have identified 101 distinct geysers erupting on Saturns icy moon Enceladus. Their analysis suggests it is possible for liquid water to reach from the moons underground sea all the way to its surface.
These findings, and clues to what powers the geyser eruptions, are presented in two articles published in the current online edition of the Astronomical Journal.

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Saturn's Enceladus moon hides 'great lake' of water

The evidence for an "ocean" of water under the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus appears to be overwhelming.
The little world has excited scientists ever since jets of icy material were seen squirting into space from a striped region at its south pole.
Now, exquisite measurements using Nasa's Cassini probe as it flew over the moon have allowed researchers to detect the water's gravitational signal.
 
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NASA Space Assets Detect Ocean inside Saturn Moon

NASA's Cassini spacecraft and Deep Space Network have uncovered evidence Saturn's moon Enceladus harbors a large underground ocean of liquid water, furthering scientific interest in the moon as a potential home to extraterrestrial microbes.
Researchers theorized the presence of an interior reservoir of water in 2005 when Cassini discovered water vapor and ice spewing from vents near the moon's south pole. The new data provide the first geophysical measurements of the internal structure of Enceladus, consistent with the existence of a hidden ocean inside the moon. Findings from the gravity measurements are in the Friday April 4 edition of the journal Science.

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Icy moon Enceladus has underground sea

Saturn's icy moon Enceladus has an underground sea of liquid water, according to the international Cassini spacecraft.
Understanding the interior structure of 500 km-diameter Enceladus has been a top priority of the Cassini mission since plumes of ice and water vapour were discovered jetting from 'tiger stripe' fractures at the moon's south pole in 2005.
Subsequent observations of the jets showed them to be relatively warm compared with other regions of the moon and to be salty - strong arguments for there being liquid water below the surface.

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Facing_Enceladus_large.jpg

A patchwork network of frozen ridges and troughs cover the face of Enceladus, Saturn's most enigmatic of icy moons.
This face-on colour view of Enceladus was taken by the international Cassini spacecraft on 31 January 2011, from a distance of 81 000 km, and processed by amateur astronomer Gordan Ugarkovic.

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Enceladus is the sixth-largest of the moons of Saturn. It was discovered on the 28th August, 1789, by William Herschel.
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 Enceladus Plume is a New Kind of Plasma Laboratory

Recent findings from NASA's Cassini mission reveal that Saturn's geyser moon Enceladus provides a special laboratory for watching unusual behaviour of plasma, or hot ionised gas. In these recent findings, some Cassini scientists think they have observed "dusty plasma," a condition theorised but not previously observed on site, near Enceladus.
Data from Cassini's fields and particles instruments also show that the usual "heavy" and "light" species of charged particles in normal plasma are actually reversed near the plume spraying from the moon's south polar region. The findings are discussed in two recent papers in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

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Cassini reveals details about charged 'nanograins' near Enceladus

Charged dust grains found in geyser plumes that supply outer ring of Saturn

It was a call that Rice University physicist Tom Hill '67 had waited more than 20 years to receive. It traveled almost a billion miles to reach him. And the message - once it arrived from NASA's Cassini spacecraft near Saturn - was so enigmatic that it would take another three years to decipher.
In a new study, Hill and colleagues describe what they found in the data from Cassini: a new class of space particles - submicroscopic "nanograins" of electrically charged dust. Such particles are believed to exist throughout the universe, and this marks the first time researchers have measured and analysed them.

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Cassini Successfully Flies over Enceladus

Cassini flew by Enceladus at an altitude of about 74 kilometres. This flyby was designed primarily for the ion and neutral mass spectrometer to analyse, or "taste," the composition of the moon's south polar plume as the spacecraft flew through it.  Cassini's path took it along the length of Baghdad Sulcus, one of Enceladus' "tiger stripe" fractures from which jets of water ice, water vapour and organic compounds spray into space. At this time, Baghdad Sulcus is in darkness, but that was not an obstacle for another instrument, the composite infrared spectrometer, which can see features by their surface temperatures and which also took measurements during this flyby.
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 Cassini to Dip into Enceladus Spray Again

Less than three weeks after its last visit to the Saturnian moon Enceladus, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returns for an encore. At closest approach on April 14, the spacecraft will be just as low over the moon's south polar region as it was on March 27 -- 46 miles, or 74 kilometres.
Like the last, this latest flyby is mainly designed for Cassini's ion and neutral mass spectrometer, which will "taste" the particles in the curious jets spraying from the moon's south polar region.

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