Mimas Composition – Liquid Ocean beneath?

moon Mimas composition

Analyzing data on wobbling from the Cassini spacecraft have enabled researchers to determine the moon Mimas composition. The find tells us that Mimas either have a rugby ball-shaped core or the more exciting alternative a sub surface ocean.

Saturn’s Moon Mimas Composition

Mimas is just one of Saturn’s 53 naturally orbiting satellites. In recent year the most exciting of these plethora of moons is Encedalus. Encedalus is a moon that could potentially hide life in water below its frozen surface. Another “famous” moon orbiting around Saturn is Titan. A moon that actually has an atmosphere rich in nitrogen, same as earth. Now researchers can add another moon of Saturn to the list of planetary bodies that might have water below an icy crust, Mimas.

The astronomer team used a technique called stereo-photogrammetry to interpret images taken by the Cassini spacecraft. Using this technique astronomers managed to determine the moon’s libration. After building a map based on the images with the help of surface reference points astronomers determined that the moon didn’t rotate smoothly. It rocked back and forth slightly.

So what is the moon Mimas composition?

The rocking motion show that either the moon have a rocky core in a weird shape or a sub-surface ocean beneath its icy outer shell. Mimas is only about 400 km in diameter. This potential ocean would be located below about 25 or 30 km of icy crust.

Astronomers are unsure if this moon house the latest find of water in the solar system or if this find is only due to an oblong shaped rocky core. The ocean theory is the more exciting of the two since anywhere we find liquid water might potentially house life. New finds in the solar system is always exciting, if only NASA had an larger budget we could explore these finds even further…

Image credit: NASA/JPL