Saturn's Third Moon, Dione, Has A Subsurface Ocean

First Posted: Oct 04, 2016 04:16 AM EDT

Saturn's moon, Dione, has an ocean situated underneath its surface, according to a study. It lies about 62 miles below its surface and surrounds the moon's rocky core.

The findings of the study were printed in Geophysical Research Letters. The study was led by researchers from the Royal Observatory Belgium. It indicates that the ocean is still there on Dione after evidence shown three years ago that the Saturn's moon has a subsurface ocean. It was seen from the images collected by the NASA Cassini spacecraft in March 2013, according to the Red Orbit.

In the recent study, the team of researchers used computer modeling techniques to determine that gravitational data that was detected during Cassini's flybys of the moon can be rationalized if Dione's crust is floating on an ocean. The researchers found the ocean is about tens of kilometers deep and surrounds a large rocky core in the heart of the moon. Attilio Rivoldini, the co-author of the study explained that the contact between the ocean and the rocky core is crucial. He further explained that the rock-water interactions give key nutrients and source of energy, both being needed ingredients for life, as noted by Astro.

The discovery confirmed that Dione has oceans under their surface just like the other Saturn's moons, Titan and Enceladus. It also suggests that Dione may be home to a long-term habitable zone for microbial life as the subsurface waters persisted in the moon's history.

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