NASA's Cassini spacecraft has spotted many watery delights while orbiting Saturn's system. There's Enceladus' 101 geysers, spewing fountains up from the ice and giving strong evidence of an ocean below. And there's Titan, a strange, soupy, orange world that may also have an ocean somewhere under the surface.
Over the last few years, another strong candidate has emerged: Dione. It's a tiny moon whose radius is about the same distance as a drive between San Francisco and Los Angeles (about 380 miles).
In 2013, images from Cassini showed the crust bend under the mountain Janiculum Dorsa was best explained if there was an ocean underneath; magnetometer measurements also showed a faint particle stream. Now a new study suggests that there is an ocean still underneath the ice, but far down: some 60 miles below the surface.
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The authors of the new study modeled the ice shells of both moons Enceladus and Dione. While this approach has been done in the past -- showing that Dione likely had no ocean -- the authors made a change.
"As an additional principle, we assumed that the icy crust can stand only the minimum amount of tension or compression necessary to maintain surface landforms," said Mikael Beuthe, of the Royal Observatory of Belgium and lead author of the new study, in a statement. "More stress would break the crust down to pieces."