Liquid Water Could Drive the Geysers of EnceladusSWhen astronomers noticed that massive plumes of crystals and vapor were jetting out of Saturn's moon Enceladus, they were left with quite a mystery. What exactly is going on beneath the moon's surface to create such a violent reaction? Scientists at Cornell's 40th annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society tried to unravel the puzzle, and they have an interesting theory. Enceladus might have liquid water inside it, and something is squeezing it out.The mysterious squeezing force is actually tidal action from Saturn, which plays another role - the friction it creates is probably generating a great deal of heat wthin Enceladus. That heat is the direct cause of the pressure and liquid water within the strange satellite. But why are the geysers located in a specific region (the "Tiger Stripes" near the southern pole)? The surface there is riddled with a series of huge fissures. Tidal forces from Saturn press the fissures closed, allowing pressure to build up below. Later, the tidal forces allow the fissures to open again, releasing the pressure as massive geysers. The shape of the moon and the nature of the tidal forces might account for the location of the geysers. Figuring out how all the heat and pressure acts within Enceladus is tricky. Essentially, the specific combination of temperature and pressure needed to create the geyser action means it is very likely that liquid water is not only present, but responsible for carrying heat up through cracks in the ice. The cycle of heating, melting, flexing and erupting is quite violent and spectacular. Plus, space ships traveling to the outer planets have a handy spot to fill up the water tanks. Image by: NASA. DPS Meeting Day 1: Geysers on Enceladus. [Nobel Intent]