Mimas, a Tiny Moon Orbiting Saturn, Could Be Hiding an Ocean Beneath Its Frozen Surface

Saturn's moon Mimas has a wobbly rotation and scientists believe it is suggestive of an elongated core or an internal ocean.

Mimas, a Tiny Moon Orbiting Saturn, Could Be Hiding an Ocean Beneath Its Frozen Surface

Photo Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ Space Science Institute

Saturn’s small moon Mimas may have an ocean underneath its icy surface

Highlights
  • Mimas has a wobbly rotation
  • It could be due to its underwater ocean
  • Mimas is marked by its icy surface

Saturn, the second-largest planet in the Solar System after Jupiter, has always attracted the attention of not just scientists but also amateur astronomers. Given the prominent rings around it, it is easily recognisable. But it has another outstanding feature: more than 60 moons. One of these moons has got scientists particularly interested recently. According to new research, Mimas, a tiny moon orbiting the planet, could be hiding an ocean under its frozen surface.

Not surprising, Saturn itself is the only planet that is less dense than water, meaning if there were a bathtub big enough to hold it, the Ringed Planet would float. Mimas has a wobbly rotation and scientists believe it is suggestive of an elongated core or an internal ocean.

However, unlike other moons with oceans, Mimas has no markers on its surface indicating an ocean underneath. The research, published in the Icarus journal, says it could be. Like many other scientists, researchers Alyssa Rhoden had set out to disprove the ocean hypothesis when she and her colleague Matthew Walker realised it might actually hold water beneath 14–20 miles of ice.

Rhoden, a specialist in the geophysics of icy satellites and co-leader of NASA's Network for Ocean Worlds Research Coordination Network, said because the surface of Mimas is heavily cratered, she and her colleague thought it was just a frozen block of ice. Rhoden said in a press release that Mimas' surface has been deceiving researchers all along, and their new knowledge has dramatically broadened the notion of a potentially habitable world in the solar system and beyond.

Rhoden added that while their findings support the existence of a present-day ocean within Mimas, it was difficult to reconcile the “moon's orbital and geologic characteristics with our current understanding of its thermal-orbital evolution.”

She added evaluating Mimas' status as an ocean moon would help researchers better understand Saturn's rings and mid-sized moons.


Looking to buy headphones? Listen to the experts on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
Comments

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Further reading: Saturn, Mimas, Saturn Moon, Mimas Ocean
Tencent Fires 70 Staff, Blacklists 13 Firms in Anti-Graft Campaign
YouTube Channels of Crypto Influencers, Indian Exchanges Hijacked to Scam Innocent Investors
Share on Facebook Tweet Snapchat Share Reddit Comment
 
 

Advertisement

Advertisement

© Copyright Red Pixels Ventures Limited 2022. All rights reserved.