Biologists have long suspected that a landmark discovery awaits us beneath the ice of this small moon. But until now there was something missing to be sure. Now there’s everything.
Enceladus is about one and a half times closer to Saturn than the Moon is to Earth. But it’s seven times smaller than Saturn, only 500 or so kilometers in diameter. So if the gas giant had a surface to stand on, the disk of that moon would still look smaller than ours. But how epic must a huge “lord of the rings” look in the sky above Enceladus itself.
Saturn has six dozen satellites, and Jupiter has even more. But Enceladus really stands out in this rich collection. It literally stands out because astronomers have taken note of its brilliance. It reflects more sunlight than any other celestial body in the entire solar system. It turned out that the glittering ball was entirely covered in ice. Not some frozen carbon dioxide, but water ice.