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    科學美國人視頻版 >


    The Year in Planetary Science


    Moving out into the solar system, there’s a place, a dwarf planet called Ceres—there’s water there, too, it seems! We’ve found actually what looks to be a cryovolcano—a volcano built from flowing liquid water rather than flowing liquid rock. Pretty crazy, even though there’s probably not an ocean there.


    But if we move to Jupiter, one of its moons called Europa, there does seem to be a subsurface ocean there—we’ve known that for a long time. But now it seems, based on new observations with Hubble, there are plumes of water vapor emerging from this subsurface ocean, which is a good prospect for life and for us studying it.


    So the real news from Saturn is “the end of” news. Because the Cassini mission that’s been there for more than a decade is prepping for the end, changing its orbit, starting to dive through Saturn’s rings—uh lining up for what’s going to be a spectacular plunge into the atmosphere September 15 of next year, when it will burn up.


    Yeah they want it to burn up so that it won’t inadvertently crash into one of the moons and contaminate it, because there are a couple of moons—Titan and Enceladus in particular—where there’s also evidence of underground oceans where there could be life. And we don’t want to mess that up.


    Yet more oceans in the outer solar system. Which leads us to Uranus and Neptune. We don’t really know much about them, and we won’t for some time because there’s no spacecraft there.


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