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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Stories

  • Bad Move
    Jason Rantz says I-594 cites a bad example for gun control

  • Healing in Oso
    Oso fire chief remembers deadly mudslide on 6-month anniversary

  • Wilson's Win
    The Seahawks have the NFL's single biggest difference maker
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Listen to the show
Hear GeekWire on KIRO Radio
Join Todd Bishop and John Cook weekends on KIRO Radio to talk Seattle technology.

Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.