Ocean Worlds in our Solar System

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NASA will discuss new results about ocean worlds in our solar system from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and the Hubble Space Telescope during a news briefing 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) on Thursday, April 13, 2017.

Ocean Worlds - Water in the Solar System and beyond

Ocean Worlds – Water in the Solar System and beyond.

Earth isn’t the only world in our solar system. Oceans could exist in diverse forms on moons, comets and dwarf planets, offering clues in the quest to discover life beyond our Planet Earth.


Planet Earth (Distance from Sun: 1 Au)

Surface of Planet Earth is about 71% water and contains 5 oceans: Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern.

Ceres – Dwarf Planet (Distance from Sun: 2.8 Au)

In Asteroid Belt.

Europa Moon – Planet Jupiter (Distance from Sun:  5.2 Au)

Europa’s is closest to the surface (less than 10 km and possibly less than 1 km in places), and hence potentially best suited for eventual direct exploration.

Scientists strongly suspect that a subsurface salty ocean lies beneath Europa’s icy crust. Tidal heating from its parent planet, Jupiter, maintains this ocean’s liquid state and could also create partially melted pockets, or lakes, throughout the moon’s outer shell.

Enceladus Moon (Distance from Sun:  5.2 Au)

Enceladus’ ocean is deeper—5–40 km below its surface—but fractures beneath the south pole of this moon allow ice and gas from the ocean to escape to space where it has been sampled by mass spectrometers aboard the Cassini Saturn Orbiter.

Mimas Moon – Planet Saturn (Distance from Sun:  9.5 Au)

Research suggest that Mimas has either a subsurface ocean or that its core is shaped like a football. If Mimas is hiding liquid water ocean, it lies 15 to 30 miles (25 to 30km) beneath the moon’s inpact-battered surface.

Titan Moon – Planet Saturn (Distance from Sun:  9.5 Au)

Titan’s ocean is the deepest perhaps 50–100 km. It might be a salty, subsurface ocean possibly as salty as the Dead Sea on Earth beginning below its icy shell. There is no evidence for plumes or ice volcanism exist on the surface.

Titan’s surface has no life as we don’t know it. It could inhabit lakes and rivers that flow with ethane and methane hydrocarbons instead of water.

Triton Moon – Planet Neptune

A subsurface ocean at Triton is considered possible, but is unconfirmed.

Dwarf Planet Pluto

Pluto is a surprisingly active world. It has mountains of water ice and flowing glaciers of nitrogen and methane ice. Mysterious fault lines, some hundreds of miles long, may suggest that Pluto has a hidden subsurface ocean.

Past Ocean Worlds

Planet Mars.

Mars has frozen in the ice caps or trapped beneath the soil.


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