Cassini's 13 Greatest Discoveries During Its 13 Years at Saturn

The plumes of liquid water spewing into space through cracks in the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus are another highlight of Cassini’s productive mission. The spacecraft found at least 101 sites where geysers erupt. These eruption sites tend to be in the “tiger stripes” (cracks) on the surface of the icy moon.

The spacecraft provided scientists with strong evidence that Enceladus possesses a worldwide liquid-water ocean underneath a shell of ice 19 to 25 miles (30 to 40 kilometers) thick, and this is very likely the source of the liquid in the plumes.

Just a few months ago, Cassini discovered that there is hydrogen in these plumes, which is a hint that there could be hydrothermal vents in the ocean, creating a warm, friendly place for life to congregate, similar to the undersea vents in Earth’s oceans .

The many flybys of Enceladus produced other remarkable finds. Notable ones include evidence of plate tectonics around the south pole (since the terrain keeps changing).

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