Mysterious deep snow covers Saturn's icy moon: how it got there
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New calculations show that deposits of ice particles on Enceladus can reach a thickness of 700 meters.
Scientists from various US universities have conducted a new study of the snow cover of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus. Calculations based on measuring the size of a series of depressions on this satellite show that deposits of ice particles ejected from polar geysers can reach a depth of 700 meters in some places. Existing eruptions on Enceladus cannot explain such a phenomenon, so scientists believe that more active cryovolcanism processes took place here in the past, writes ScienceAlert.
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Enceladus is a satellite with a diameter of 500 km, which is covered with an icy shell and scientists believe that under it lies an ocean of liquid salt water. And that ocean could potentially host life yet to be discovered.
Scientists already know that fissures on the moon's surface form round and elliptical pits, some of which are up to a kilometer in diameter. They appeared as a result of the expansion of cracks in the crust under loose deposits of regolith.
The width and depth of these pits can provide some information about the properties and formation of the regolith that fell here, including approximately determining its thickness. Calculations have shown that the average snow thickness here is about 250 meters, and in some places it reaches about 700 meters.
But current ice particle emissions cannot account for this amount of snow, which means scientists believe Enceladus experienced much higher snowfall rates in the past. Scientists believe that either very strong ice eruptions occurred on Saturn's moon, or there were other processes of cryovolcanism, that is, the satellite was more active in this regard. But perhaps both of these processes existed at the same time.