Theoretical model suggests that the salinity of Enceladus’ oceans may be correct to sustain life

يشير النموذج النظري إلى أن ملوحة محيطات إنسيلادوس قد تكون صحيحة للحفاظ على الحياة

Heat sources/sinks and salinity/temperature effects were considered in our experiments on Enceladus. (a) Primary heat sources and heat flow, including heating due to tidal dissipation in ice ℋice The silicate coreessenceheat flow from the ocean to the ice ℋocn, and the space-transfer heat loss ℋcond. Ocean heat transfer is shown by the horizontal arrow. (b) Observed ice crust thickness of Enceladus (18) (black solid curve, y-axis left). The freezing point suppression of water is indicated by these differences in thickness, relative to that at zero pressure, by the external left y-axis. The gray dashed curve shows the rate of freezing (positive) and melting (negative) required to maintain a steady state based on the inverted shallow ice flow model (y-axis on the right). (c) The density of water varies with the temperature near the freezing point (marked by circles) for the different salinities assumed. The transition from cold to warm colors indicates increased salinity. Solid (dashed) curves are calculated assuming pressure under 26.5 km (5.6 km) of ice at the equator (Antarctica). (d) Typical amounts and features of ℋice،essence،the conditionand ℋpotential. attributed to him: science progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abm4665

A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found through theoretical modeling that ocean salinity on Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, may be the right level to sustain life. In their paper published in the magazine science advances, The group describes the factors that went into building their model and the properties of Enceladus that were used to measure the salinity of its oceans.

Data collected from the Cassini and Galileo missions showed that Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa have the ability to satisfy three of the key features thought to be necessary to support life on others. spiral stars: They have a source of energy, they have liquid water And they have a mixture of chemicals that previous research has shown are likely essential for life. Geyser-like sprays emanating from fissures near Enceladus’ south pole are expected to provide an opportunity to learn more about the ocean chemistry and dynamics thought to exist beneath the moon’s icy crust. Meanwhile, space scientists continue to examine data from probes that have passed close to the two moons to ascertain whether either of them could host life. In this new effort, the researchers used data from both probes to better understand the nature of the oceans trapped under the icy shells.

Enceladus appears almost pure white in photographs due to a layer of ice covering its entire surface. But the ice has cracks and fissures, some of which have jets of water seeping to the surface. Previous researchers suggested that such water may contain organic matter It can support life. To learn more about the ocean under the ice, the researchers created a theoretical model – one based on data from Cassini and previous work that involved studying ice formation on celestial bodies using data on ocean currentsIce engineering and ocean salinity.






The model suggested that more salty oceans should correspond to thicker ice at the poles and less salty oceans with thinner ice at the poles. Cassini’s data has already shown that the ice above Enceladus’ equator is thinner than the ice at the equator, indicating that the salinity of the ocean beneath the ice on the Moon is as low, perhaps as high as 30 grams per kilogram of water. For comparison, the salinity of Earth’s oceans is about 35 grams per kilogram of water. The Model Also show potential current flow patterns under the ice based on temperature changes and possible evidence of heat vents on the ocean floor.


Ocean currents predicted on Enceladus


more information:
Wanying Kang et al, How does salinity shape ocean circulation and ice geometry on Enceladus and other icy satellites?, science progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abm4665

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