Read at ABC7 San Francisco
Astronomers have discovered evidence of a large, young ocean beneath the frozen crust of Saturn's moon Mimas. The ocean is believed to fill half of Mimas' volume and is located 12 to 18 miles beneath the moon's icy surface.
"Mimas was probably the most unlikely place to look for a global ocean - and liquid water more generally. So that looks like a potential habitable world. But nobody knows how much time is needed for life to arise."
The discovery was made by a French-led team who analyzed changes in Mimas' orbit and rotation using data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The moon lacks typical signs of subsurface activity, such as fractures and geysers, but the presence of an ocean suggests it could be a potential habitat for life.
"The idea that relatively small, icy moons can harbor young oceans is inspiring," SETI Institute's Matija Cuk and Southwest Research Institute's Alyssa Rose Rhoden wrote.