In a surprising revelation, scientists have discovered evidence suggesting that Mimas, Saturn’s Death Star, possesses an underground ocean.
Mimas, Saturn’s Death Star.
The recent revelation about Mimas, one of Saturn’s moons, has changed its fame from simply resembling the “Death Star” to potentially hosting a global ocean beneath its surface. This important finding was reported in a study published in the journal Nature. Research indicates that Mimas acquired its ocean relatively recently, approximately five to 15 million years ago, making it an intriguing topic for investigating the origins of life within our solar system.
With a modest size of about 400 kilometers in diameter, Mimas had until now not indicated its hidden ocean due to its cratered surface. This discovery places Mimas among the select group of moons known to have internal oceans, such as Enceladus and Europa, with one distinguishing characteristic: the age of its ocean.
Determining the youth of the ocean was possible thanks to the study of the interactions of the Mimas tides with Saturn. An unexpected irregularity observed in its orbit provided evidence of recent ocean formation. This revelation suggests that Mimas could offer valuable information about the early stages of ocean development and the possible emergence of life.
The discovery underscores the idea that even smaller, seemingly inactive moons may possess hidden oceans capable of providing conditions conducive to life. This is particularly intriguing given previous findings indicating the presence of components essential for life, as well as a potent energy source, on another of Saturn’s icy moons: Enceladus.
Insights into the Mimas Ocean were made possible by data collected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which extensively explored Saturn and its moons for a decade. Analysis of this data allowed scientists to detect subtle changes in Mimas’ orbit, leading to inferring the presence of an ocean and estimating its size.
Written by: Emmanuel Aman Joe