Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Coolidge geology prof on Enceladus water geyser team

Wayne Pryor, professor of astronomy and geology at Central Arizona College, in Coolidge, is a member of the team that found supersonic geysers of water vapor and ice crystals on Saturn's moon Enceladus are coming from warm, probably liquid water in a shallow underground lake.

The report is published in the Nov. 27 issue of Nature. Four jets of water were detected in a giant plume of gas and dust from the south polar region by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

There are contrasting interpretations, but this would put Enceladus on a par with Europa, as the only other bodies with possible liquid water besides Earth. And raises the potential for finding life.

[right, Oct. 10, 2007, image of geyser-like eruptions of ice particles and water vapor shooting out from the south pole of Saturn's moon, Enceladus. Credit, NASA]

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