James Webb sees a huge plume of water emanating from one of Saturn’s moons

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While studying Enceladus – one of more than 80 moons of Saturn – the James Webb Space Telescope detected a huge cloud of water vapor.

The column is the largest ever and may contain the chemical ingredients necessary for life. Plumes of water vapor escaping from beneath the moon’s icy surface have been seen before and their composition studied, but it now appears that the material can be vented further into space than previously thought. Several times the size of the planet in the distance.

In 2005, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft flew through the pillars several times. For example, methane, carbon dioxide and ammonia have been detected in the clouds. Silica particles have also been detected, which may have risen from the ocean floor on the lunar surface. However, Cassini couldn’t see up close what Webb now saw from a distance and in 4.5 minutes: cold water vapor reaching into the depths of space.

A paper in preparation will detail the amount of water in the column and the temperature of the steam. Well, the ice particles discovered in 2005 probably contain a much higher concentration of organic matter than the water vapor detected now. It remains to be seen if signs of life can also be found in the massive plume.

But the researchers say there will be enough new discoveries about Enceladus in the paper to surprise us. It is also known that the moon will be studied again in a subsequent round of observations, six times longer than it has now. There is also talk of a NASA mission to the moon itself.

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Read more here: JWST detects the largest water column to date ejected from a moon of Saturn.

Megan Vasquez

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