Vast ocean found beneath ice of Saturn moon

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Scientists have uncovered a vast ocean beneath the icy surface of a Saturn moon.

Italian and American researchers made the discovery using Cassini. The NASA-European spacecraft is still exploring Saturn and its rings some 17 years after its launch.

This new ocean is centered at the south pole of the moon Enceladus (ehn-SEHL'-uh-duhs) and is believed to be as big as -- or bigger than -- North America's Lake Superior.

Enceladus is 310 miles across.

Cassini previously detected a plume streaming from cracks in the south polar region. Scientists suspected it might be from a subsurface sea. On Thursday, they confirmed its presence. Their findings appear in the journal Science.

Researchers say it's possible the ocean could harbor life. But another mission will be needed for that search.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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