Planetary geology: Mimas’ surface hides an ocean

White dotted with giant craters and ice: Mimas It looks frozen. No wonder there is a star orbiting outside of Saturn’s ring system, this giant planet 10 times farther from the Sun than Earth. However…

Beneath the surface of Mimas, there is a huge ocean of liquid water. There is no direct evidence that betrays him, unlike other ocean worlds that have been observed: “The frozen surface of Europa, for example, is completely fractured. On Enceladus, powerful geysers were observed”notes Olivier Moses, of the Marseille Astrophysical Laboratory.

But ever since the Cassini probe discovered the Saturni system, between 2004 and 2017, the hypothesis has been up in the air. Mimas’ orbit is already agitated by slow oscillations of staggering size. Using models, two American astrophysicists have just shown that the most plausible reason is an ocean of liquid water! It will rest under a layer of ice 20-30 km thick: tidal movements will be enough to prevent the water from freezing, but not enough to break its thick permafrost.

>> Read also: Enceladus, this moon of Saturn will have strong volcanic activity

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