It was the force of gravity of Saturn to scratch the icy surface of one of the most fascinating moons between the 82 of the ring planet, Enceladus, which hides an ocean of salt water that can potentially harbor life. The discovery is published in the journal Nature Astronomy by the Carnegie Institution for Science group in Washington coordinated by Doug Hemingway, in collaboration with the Universities of California at Davis and Berkeley.
The scratches of Enceladus are reminiscent of those of a tiger: they are parallel cracks and concentrated at the South Pole. They also extend for 130 kilometers, separated by about 35 kilometers. The authors of the research studied the origin using both computer models and data from the first mission that observed them, Cassini, born from the collaboration between NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) and Italian Space Agency (ASI) and concluded in 2017 with a dip in the atmosphere of Saturn. They discovered that it was the gravity of Saturn that caused more cracks in the cracks, where the crust is thinner.
The particular orbit of Enceladus, which leads this moon to be sometimes closer and other times to move away from Saturn, causes the periodic freezing of water under the icy crust. As the water freezes increases in volume, a pressure is created that splits the crust of Enceladus, especially at the South Pole. The proximity of Saturn and the small size of Enceladus then prevent the wounds of the crust of the small moon from closing. "These are fissures that continually erupt icy water, a unique aspect in the Solar System," explained Hemingway. "It is thanks to these scars - he concluded - that we can study the submerged ocean of Enceladus".