Question Sheet: Saturn’s Strangely Warm Moon


Before reading:

  1. Is there any possibility of life outside of Earth? What would you look for in a planet to suggest the possibility of life?
  2. Based on the title of this article, what would you predict that the article is about?

During reading:

  1. Why is it surprising that one of Saturn’s moons is “oozing” heat?
  2. What was “one of the most exciting phone calls [John Spencer] can remember”?


  3. How did scientists determine that Enceladus had to be producing its own heat?
  4. Why can the sun be ruled out as a heat source for Enceladus? How is the heat


  5. What other bodies in the solar system generate detectable heat?
  6. What other elements and compounds exist in the plumes emitted by Enceladus?

After reading:

  1. Besides waiting for the Cassini spacecraft to pass close to the moon in

    2008, what else can scientists do to try to learn more about Enceladus? See



  2. Compare the features of Enceladus to another moon orbiting Saturn. How does

    Enceladus differ from the other moon? In what ways is it the same? See (NASA) or of Tennessee, Knoxville).

  3. What do scientists look for when they search for life in outer space?

    Besides the presence of liquid water, what else might encourage or suggest life?

    See (European

    Space Agency) and

  4. What conditions produce a geyser on Earth? Why can’t the same conditions

    produce geysers on Enceladus? See of Michigan).

  5. How many moons of Saturn have been officially named? Where did the names

    come from? See (NASA).


Who discovered Saturn’s moon Enceladus? When was the discovery made? How was the moon’s name selected? See (NASA) and


  1. The names of planets and moons usually come from Greek and Roman mythology. What is the myth surrounding Enceladus? If you were going to name a moon what would you call it? See
  2. Go to the Web site (William A. Arnett). Write a brief review of the site. What information does it provide? How up-to-date is that information? What else might it include about Enceladus?


Saturn’s largest moon Titan has a radius of 2,575 kilometers. Enceladus has a radius of 250 kilometers. How many times wider is Titan than Enceladus? How many times larger is Titan’s surface area? How many times larger is Titan’s volume?