Special Department Lecture - Wanying Kang
Title: Ocean and ice dynamics on Enceladus
Abstract: Beneath the ice shell encasing Enceladus, a small icy moon of Saturn, a global ocean of liquid water ejects geyser-like sprays into space through fissures concentrated near the south pole, making it one of the places with the highest potential of finding extraterrestrial life. The existence of an ocean has been attributed to the heat generated in dissipative processes associated with the deformation of Enceladus’s ice shell and silicate core by tidal flexing. However, it remains unclear 1) what gives rise to the dramatic asymmetry between the northern and southern hemispheres, and 2) under what configurations -- specifically, what ocean salinity and what heat partition between the ice shell and silicate core -- the observed ice geometry can be sustained. These questions are key to our understanding of the satellite’s evolution, heat budget, ocean chemical environment and ocean dynamics, which in turn determine how likely Enceladus is to harbor life and how we would detect life if it exists. During this talk, I will use the Enceladus’s ice shell geometry as a starting point to talk about how it might have formed and what it tells us.
Zoom link: https://mit.zoom.us/j/96613507285
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