Oxygen discovered around Saturn's icy moonS

The moons of Saturn and Jupiter are just getting more and more intriguing. While many of those far-flung satellites might contain liquid oceans, a new report indicates that Dione, one of Saturn's icy moons, is surrounded by a thin layer of oxygen.

According to a new report published in Geophysical Research Letters, Cassini detected a thin layer of oxygen around the moon during its pass two years ago. It's not enough to qualify as an atmosphere, so researchers have dubbed it an "exosphere." The paper further suggests that highly charged particles from Saturn's radiation belt split Dione's ice water into hydrogen and oxygen, creating that small exosphere.

Unfortunately, if we do find life among Jupiter or Saturn's systems, it will have to be on another moon. Andrew Coates, a co-author on the paper, says that because Dione has no liquid water, it doesn't fulfill the conditions necessary to support life.

Oxygen envelops Saturn's icy moon [BBC News via TDW]

Image from Wikipedia.