Astronauts Sitting in Ship



Earth's mysterious large Moon is our nearest neighbor in space, dominating our clear night sky with its beguiling and bewitching cold golden glow. Earth's Moon is the only body beyond our planet that we have visited, leaving our footprints embedded in its alien dust. Despite its close proximity to our planet, our mysterious Moon has still managed to keep some ancient secrets from us very well. However, in October 2014, using data derived from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, a team of planetary scientists announced that they may have solved a lunar mystery almost as old as our Moon itself. The three little moons (Methone, Pallene, and Anthe) orbit at very similar distances from Saturn, and they have a dynamical relationship. Mimas disturbs the trio of little moons, and causes the orbit of Methone to vary by as much as 20 kilometers (12.4 miles). Mimas causes the orbit of Pallene to vary by a slightly smaller amount--but it has the greatest influence on the orbit of the moon Anthe. Europa: Planetary scientists generally think that a layer of liquid water swirls around beneath Europa's surface, and that heat from tidal flexing causes the subsurface ocean to remain liquid. It is estimated that the outer crust of solid ice is about 6 to 19 miles thick, including a ductile "warm ice" layer that hints that the liquid ocean underneath may be 60 miles deep. This means that Europa's oceans would amount to slightly more than two times the volume of Earth's oceans.