NASA Organization Charts

The new findings are an independent line of evidence that hydrothermal activity is taking place in the subsurface ocean of Enceladus. Earlier results, published in March 2015, indicated hot water is interacting with rock beneath the sea of this distant moon. The new discoveries support that conclusion and add that the rock appears to be reacting chemically to produce the hydrogen. "For the smaller craters, it's like if you're filling a bucket, eventually your bucket gets full, but if you keep pouring cups of water into the bucket, you can't tell how many cups of water beyond full you've gone. Looking at the larger craters at the subsurface might give us insight, because that 'bucket' isn't full yet," Dr. Soderblom added. Furthermore, the icy stuff that collected on Methone's surface could even be more lightweight than that which lies beneath. It is possible that such fluffy, snowy, stuff can actually flow--at least over long periods of thousands to millions of years--thus filling in the tell-tale scars of impact craters.