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Mimas, one of Saturn’s moons, has been hiding a secret: it has an ocean beneath its icy shell. This discovery, published in the journal Nature, makes Mimas the ninth place in our solar system known to have liquid water.

A Hidden Ocean

Mimas’ ocean is a surprise to astronomers because it doesn’t have any outward signs, such as fractures on the surface or geysers spraying water. It’s a “boring” moon, according to astronomer ValĂ©ry Lainey, who led the study.

The research team was able to estimate the age of Mimas’ ocean using data from the Cassini spacecraft. They found that the ocean is only 5 to 15 million years old, much younger than Earth’s oceans.

A Prime Candidate for Studying the Origin of Life

The existence of a liquid water ocean on Mimas makes it a prime candidate for studying the origin of life. Three key ingredients are necessary for life to emerge: energy, organic molecules, and water. Mimas has all three of these ingredients, making it a potential home for life.

A New Insight into Ocean Worlds

Mimas’ ocean could give astronomers new insight into the early, primitive phases of ocean worlds. It’s a unique opportunity to study an ocean that is much younger than Earth’s.

Why No Traces of Water in Herschel Crater?

Mimas’ most defining feature is its gigantic Herschel Crater, which resembles the Death Star from Star Wars. However, there are no traces of water in the crater. This is because the crater is shallower than the sea and arrived before the ocean itself.