Seonmin Ko
Year: 2018-19

Seonmin Ko

School: Korea International School

Grade: 11

City: Jeju

Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons which scientists have conducted extensive research on, should be the terrestrial body that should be analyzed next - especially because of the unique qualities of its plumes. Ever since its discovery, scientists have argued that it has the potential for life with its potential of life on and its plumes have erupted ice and water vapor all the way into outer space - hundreds of miles away from its surface. Focusing on why this phenomenon occurs and what kind of other data scientists could gain from further observation of Enceladus’s plumes would be helpful resolving the many mysteries that scientists have about this moon.

To begin with, water geysers have been discovered to be triggered by hydrothermal activity on Enceladus. In fact, the hydrothermal vents found on Enceladus have been noted for being the first of such active hydrothermal activity finding outside of Earth as well as its striking similarity to those found underneath Earth’s oceans. As Earth’s first forms of life are speculated to have formed in these hydrothermal vents, many scientists find these hot spring findings prospective in potentially supporting life which is why more research must be done on Enceladus.

Moreover, these hot springs that seem to prove that Enceladus has an extremely hot core. Scholars speculate that the heat mainly comes from a process known as tidal heating. Tidal heating is the process in which Saturn’s gravitational pull of Enceladus deforms it to produce strong levels of heat. This finding of heat is very important because it allows for the kind of change that needs to occur for there to be any possibility for life. Also, this heat allows the water that exists there to be in the form of liquid, vapor, and ice. combined allow for the potential of life on Enceladus to increase, thus making the study of Enceladus even more crucial.

However, scientists today have noted that tidal heating is merely a part of the equation. In fact, researchers are starting to speculate that there is another unknown source of heat that acts to create the extreme heat omitted by Enceladus. To conclude what this mysterious heat source is, there needs to be more research done on Enceladus which is why Target 1 is such an essential choice.

What makes Enceladus such an interesting and prospective target of study is its similarities to the Earth, the potential for organic life, and finally, the various areas of mystery that remain uncovered.

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