Enceladus: Saturn’s Moon Under A Blanket of Snow

The surface of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s 83 moons, appears to be covered in snow; however, recent findings may provide more insight into what is truly covering the surface of this moon. Researchers are observing that the material covering may be a snow-like material, as opposed to the snow that we know on Earth (Tangermann par. 2). The material is likely a form of low-density, icy regolith. The particles seem to fall to the surface of Enceladus in the same way that snow does on Earth. The material is falling to the surface, despite a nearly complete lack of gravity. Some areas have a regolith blanket with depths ranging from over 820 feet to over 2,300 feet.

Source: New Scientist

The pictures from the recent Icarus mission appear to show deep geysers and plumes of water vapor on Enceladus (Grossman par. 2). This differs from the findings of the Cassini spacecraft 2005 and 2017. In 2017, the Cassini found that “the nitrogen- and oxygen-containing compounds are exciting because they suggest the subsurface ocean of the icy moon has, at the very least, the precursors for life to begin” (Ryan par. 1). The new studies will help get a bigger picture of what is actually happening on the surface and the material make-up of the surface, besides just the craters, and also the potential life forms that may be living on this moon.

The new discovery and research about the properties of the materials on Enceladus are crucial to future attempts at landing a probe on the surface of the moon. By combining the new research with previous findings from the Cassini spacecraft, scientists will be able to learn the terrain of the moon to create a stable probe or device that can land on and explore Enceladus. 

Sources/Works Cited

Grossman, Lisa. “Saturn’s moon Enceladus wears a thick blanket of snow.” Science News 

Explore, 08 Mar. 2023, Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

“Huygens.” NASA, Accessed 30 Mar. 


Ryan, Jackson. “Saturn’s ice moon is spewing organic compounds that could precede life.” 

CNET, 02 Oct. 2019, Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

“Saturn Moons.” NASA Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.


SNOW-COVERED MOON, SCIENTISTS SAY.” The Byte, 22 Jan. 2023, Accessed 20 Mar. 2023.

By Meghan Minogue’23 SNHS Member

Categories: SNHS