On a moon of Saturn, James Webb spots a huge plume

While Jupiter’s major moons will undoubtedly make headlines over the next few years with several observation missions scheduled or already launched, other celestial bodies deserve in-depth attention for researchers of extraterrestrial life forms.

The moon Encelade of the planet Saturn is known for its icy crust which lets out plumes of water vapor in places, suggesting an underlying activity, with undoubtedly an ocean of liquid water and sources of internal heat.

James Webb observe un immense panache

So many ingredients that could help the development of life forms. And precisely, the space telescope James Webb captured a huge plume of water vapor emerging from the frozen surface of Enceladus indicating that the moon can expel huge amounts of water, more than believed from early observations.

Enceladus geyser plume steam water

The plume extends over more than 9,600 kilometers…20 times the size of this small moon 500 kilometers in diameter. Direct observation makes it possible to appreciate the dynamics but also the interactions with the icy rings of Saturn, in particular by its proximity to the E ring, the furthest from the planet.

Avenues for future missions

The plume is fed by a geyser delivering a volume equivalent to 300 liters of water per second. The expulsion of water vapor by Enceladus is best known from close observations of the Cassini probes in the 2010s but the James Webb telescope will add valuable knowledge.

With its supposed salty ocean below its frozen surface, Saturn’s moon is among the potential candidates to search for traces of extraterrestrial life. James Webb’s observations will help guide viewing sites and access conditions for future life-seeking missions near Enceladus.

This page may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product from these links, the merchant site will pay us a commission without this in any way affecting the amount of your purchase. Learn more.

Source: GNT – Actualit├ęs by www.generation-nt.com.

*The article has been translated based on the content of GNT – Actualit├ęs by www.generation-nt.com. If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author. Thank you very much!

*We just want readers to access information more quickly and easily with other multilingual content, instead of information only available in a certain language.

*We always respect the copyright of the content of the author and always include the original link of the source article.If the author disagrees, just leave the report below the article, the article will be edited or deleted at the request of the author. Thanks very much! Best regards!