Today's biggest news is the discovery of water ice just beneath the surface of Mars. The Phoenix lander needed to dig just a few centimetres to find this white stuff, which evaporated a few days later just like water. This behaviour has led scientists to rule out frozen CO2 or salt. The fact that Phoenix found water so quickly suggests that it could be ubiquitous in the polar region, covered by just a thin layer of dust. Satellite data suggests that 1/4 of Mars could have water beneath the surface. Though scientists suspect that it exists on many worlds, this is the first positive find of water on another planet.
Scientists at University of California Santa Cruz have found that Enceladus could not possibly produce enough tidal heat to keep its South pole warm. The pole, which should be the coldest region, is the hottest! Enceladus' orbit is free of tidal stresses. Radioactive decay could account for no more than 0.32 gigawatts, yet Enceladus gives off 5.8 gigawatts! This has led scientists to conclude that the moon should freeze up in a few million years. Perhaps we should consider that something else is going on.
Enceladus' core can be modelled with a central mass of about 10^12 kg. This mass is typical for a primordial singularity. This object consumes only 2.8 kg per year and generates 10^9 watts of radiation. Water and other molecules near this centre are heated to a plasma. Electrons are stripped from atoms, and the resulting ions are drawn into circular orbits. The resulting current generates a magnetic field with the "positive" pole in the South. Electrons and positively charged ions spiral along magnetic field lines to form bipolar jets, the classic sign of a Black Hole.
The Northern jet is composed of electrons which are absorbed by the moon's interior. More energetic ions of the Southern jet penetrate these layers to warm the South Pole. Escaping ions spiral into Space, exactly as observed by Cassini. Unless Saturn's Rings are replenished, they would decay within 100 million years. Then we would face the anthropic question of why they exist in the right time for humans to view them. Thanks to the Cassini spacecraft, we have witnessed the E Ring being resuppllied from a moon. This observation suggests that similiar processes maintain the rings indefinitely.
Not long ago Earth was thought to be the only place with water in the solar system. Today we have found evidence for water on Mars, asteroids like Ceres, and moons like Europa and Enceladus. Ice on Mars shows conditions that might support life. Water could provide drinks and fuel for future settlers. Enceladus polar water is a mystery that could lead to a Black Hole. The water that we sometimes take for granted is today's most important discovery.
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