Daily Mail
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus is hiding a large body of water under its surface, new research has confirmed. What is more it could even have the right conditions to host life.

Experts have analysed data from the Cassini spacecraft, which dived through the moon’s water ice plume in 2008.

It revealed negatively charged water ions, which provide evidence for the presence of liquid water.

The Cassini plasma spectrometer, used to gather this data, also found other species of negatively charged ions including hydrocarbons.

‘While it’s no surprise that there is water there, these short-lived ions are extra evidence for sub-surface water and where there’s water, carbon and energy, some of the major ingredients for life are present,’ said lead author Andrew Coates from University College London.

‘The surprise for us was to look at the mass of these ions. There were several peaks in the spectrum, and when we analysed them we saw the effect of water molecules clustering together one after the other.’

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