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Investigating the Mysterious Snow on Saturn's Moon

The snow on Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, can bury almost any skyscraper on Earth. Scientists would like to find out why.

The snow’s depth on Enceladus shows that its water vapor could have been more active in the past. Geysers on the moon allow for water from a salty ocean under an icy shell to rise to the surface of Enceladus. Some of this water contributes to forming one of Saturn’s rings. According to the researchers, the rest of this water seems to land back on the ground in the form of snow. Scientists believe that if they could fully understand the snow's properties, it could help uncover Enceladus’ history.

For scientists to fully understand the properties of the snow on Enceladus, they looked into Iceland. In Iceland, there are marks in the ground made from loose rocks, ice, or snow called pit chains. Scientists discovered they are very similar to features on Enceladus.

Work that was previously performed in Iceland revealed that when a certain angle of sunlight hits the pit chain, it can measure its depth, and in turn, potentially reveal the material the pits are contained in. The scientists are convinced that this same technique could work on Enceladus.

Further research on this snow can help scientists discover how long it has been accumulating on the moon of Saturn. Additionally, this research can also help scientists determine the safest places to land on Enceladus.

[Source: Science News Explores]

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