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This is one of my favourite celestial bodies - Enceladus, an icy moon orbiting Saturn. Those blue stripes are called tiger stripes, and they're little fractures on the surface. The coolest part is that jets of water come out through those spaces, opening up springs for the moon's underground oceans and leaving a hazy, mystifying halo of water vapour around the moon. A bit like a volcano, but spitting water instead of lava - a cryovolcano. Whole heat mechanisms keeping that water warm, liquid, clandestine.

It got me wondering what those jets of water in outer space might sound like. Perhaps a little like a spring, birthing water - but somehow it felt too quiet, too crisp. Perhaps they're more like waterfalls, imprudent and powerful. But it felt like using different directions of force - a waterfall and a volcano, one into, and one away from, gravity.

In the end, I read that waterfalls can also come from icy meltwater, or be ephemeral (when it rains a lot and the bedrocks are temporarily filled up again). I suppose that might be quite similar to how cryovolcanoes form in Enceladus - icy, volatile eruptions keeping a wildly distant place breathing.

So if a cryovolcano erupts in Enceladus and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

* using a little willing suspension of disbelief, as sound in space behaves differently than here on Earth

NASA Cassini



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In collection(s): Hydrophonics


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