A Research new Geochemical models that expose Saturns Moon Enceladus CO2, an ocean-harboring moon of Saturn, may be controlled by chemical reactions at its seafloor.
Studying the plume of gases and frozen sea spray released through cracks in the moon’s icy surface suggests an interior more complex than previously thought. By understanding the composition of the plume, we can learn about what the ocean is like, how it got to be this way and whether it provides environments where life as we know it could survive.
Analysis of mass spectrometry data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft indicates that the abundance of CO2 is best explained by geochemical reactions between the moon’s rocky core and liquid water from its subsurface ocean and now the new Geochemical models that expose Saturns Moon Enceladus CO2.
Integrating this information with previous discoveries of silica and molecular hydrogen (H2) points to a more complex, geochemically diverse core. Based on our findings, Enceladus appears to demonstrate a massive carbon sequestration experiment,” Glein said. On Earth, climate scientists are exploring whether a similar process can be utilized to mitigate industrial emissions of CO2.
Using two different data sets, we derived CO2 concentration ranges that are intriguingly similar to what would be expected from the dissolution and formation of certain mixtures of silicon- and carbon-bearing minerals at the seafloor.
Another phenomenon that contributes to this complexity is the likely presence of hydrothermal vents inside Enceladus.
At Earth’s ocean floor, hydrothermal vents emit hot, energy-rich, mineral-laden fluids that allow unique ecosystems teeming with unusual creatures to thrive.
The dynamic interface of a complex core and seawater could potentially create energy sources that might support life. While we have not found evidence of the presence of microbial life in the ocean of Enceladus, the growing evidence for chemical disequilibrium offers a tantalizing hint that habitable conditions could exist beneath the moon’s icy crust.
INMS detected H2 as the spacecraft flew through the plume, and a different instrument had earlier detected tiny particles of silica, two chemicals that are considered to be markers for hydrothermal processes.
It is proposed that hydrothermal oxidation of reduced iron deep in the core creates H2, while hydrothermal activity intersecting quartz-bearing carbonated rocks produces silica-rich fluids.
Such rocks also have potential to influence the CO2 chemistry of the ocean via low-temperature reactions involving silicates and carbonates at the seafloor.