Tuesday, 7 November 2017

♄ ii

Not only have astronomers possibly deduced the mechanisms that generate and sustain heat to keep the subsurface ocean of the Cronian moon Enceladus from freezing over but can also extrapolate from their research that there has been a watery environment under the frozen shell for billions of years.
The satellite is named after the primordial giant (dread offspring of the Titans) that sparred with the Olympian goddess Athena in the Gigantomachy, and vanquished was buried beneath Mount Ætna. Attributed as the cause of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, scientists had their curiosity about the tiny moon piqued when they observed dramatic geysers of water shooting out of the southern hemisphere and seeding one of Saturn’s outer-most rings, and they thought an ocean might be hiding below as with Europa. Presumably, the age of the ocean would be long enough and stable enough to allow life in some form to gain a purchase and adapt to such harsh conditions. Looking out at this distance, delicate arrangement (though others might think that a barrier of ice is far more sheltering that the cold, open sky) makes me lament how careless we are with our ecosystem and hope that we might not have to learn the hard way.