NASA: Four of Uranus’ moons could contain water | Warm subterranean oceans in the ice giant

study a pot He concluded that four of the largest moons of Uranus “most likely contain an oceanic layer between their cores and their icy crusts.” The report claims that the moons will have oceans tens of kilometers deep.

What does a NASA study say about Uranus?

The report published by NASA specifies that of at least 27 moons orbiting Uranus, the four largest could contain water. The data comes from an investigation by the 2023 Decadal Survey of Planetary Sciences and Astrobiology of the United States National Academies, which focused specifically on Uranus, because of the scientific interest in exploring the planet, “ice giant”

Published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, the research provides insight into how a future mission might investigate the moons. “When it comes to smaller celestial bodies – planets and dwarf moons – planetary scientists have previously found evidence of oceans in a number of unexpected places, including the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto, and Saturn’s moon Mimas,” he said.

“So there are mechanisms at play that we don’t fully understand. This paper looks at what these mechanisms are and how they relate to the many bodies in the solar system that may be rich in water but have limited internal heat.”

The study reviewed results from NASA’s Voyager 2 flyby of Uranus in the 1980s and from ground-based observations. The authors built computer models imbued with additional findings from NASA’s Galileo, Cassini, Vonn and New Horizons missions, which discovered “ocean worlds,” including insights into the chemistry and geology of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, Pluto, its moon Charon, and Ceres, all icy bodies the same size. moons of Uranus.

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The researchers used this model to measure how porous the surfaces of Uranus’ moons are, and found that they likely possess enough thermal insulation to retain the internal heat that would be needed to house the ocean.

Ice-covered warm subterranean oceans

In addition, they found what could be a “heat source in the rocky mantle of the moons,” which releases hot liquid, which would help the ocean maintain a warm environment. This is a particularly likely scenario for the moons Titania and Oberon, where the oceans would be warm enough to support the possibility of habitation.

according to NASA publicationInvestigating the composition of the oceans also allows scientists to learn about materials that might be found on the icy surfaces of the moons, depending on whether subsurface material has been pushed up by geological activity. They asserted that “there is evidence from telescopes that at least one of the moons, Ariel, had material flowing to its surface, possibly from volcanic volcanism, relatively recently.”

In fact, Miranda, the “innermost” moon and the fifth largest, also boasts features on its surface that could have been of recent origin, indicating that at one time it had enough heat to support an ocean, although they now estimate that it is frozen.

But internal heat wouldn’t be the only contributing factor to the moon’s subterranean ocean. The result of the study indicates that chlorides, as well as ammonia, are likely to be abundant in the oceans of the ice giant’s largest moon.

Lovell Loxley

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