Apr 13, 2017

Meet Enceladus, Saturn's tiny moon that might harbor life

NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute

Some quick facts about Enceladus, Saturn's moon that's some 790 million miles distant from Earth and may contain the building blocks of life, if not microbial life itself:

  • It's Saturn's sixth-largest moon at about 310 miles in diameter — roughly 14% of the size of Earth's moon.
  • The moon is covered in a layer of clean ice that makes it the most reflective body in our Solar System, reflecting so much sunlight that its surface only reaches an average noontime temperature of -324 °F.
  • It likely has a warm ocean of salty water below its ice layer that's around 17 miles deep. Compare that to Earth's average ocean depth of 2.3 miles.
  • The oceanic plumes that indicate Enceladus' geological activity are the source of material for one of Saturn's rings.
Go deeper