Cassini super sleuths have found the best case yet of an ice volcano in the outer solar system.
  • NASA scientist Dr. Rosaly Lopes says that Titan, a moon of Saturn, may have cryovolcanoes.

    Lopes has studied volcanoes on Earth, which spew hot, molten rock known as lava. Cryovolcanoes erupt with different materials. “These satellites have ice crusts,” she says. “And under the ice crusts, there is a layer of water, or perhaps water with something else like ammonia, and if that liquid can come to the surface, that is what we call cryovolcanism. It just means cold volcanism.”

    1. What landscape feature separates the two suspected volcanoes of Sotra Facula?

      Sand dunes lie between the mountainous areas.

    2. What is the "magma" of cryovolcanoes?

      Rosaly says the material in cryovolcanoes is a mixture of mostly water, ammonia, methanol, and other substances.

    3. Why are cryovolcanoes important to the possibility for extraterrestrial life?

      Watery cryovolcanoes are dependent on heat from the moon or planet's interior. Water and heat are two of the most important ingredients needed for life.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    ammonia Noun

    a gas (NH3) important to food production.

    crust Noun

    rocky outermost layer of Earth or other planet.

    Encyclopedic Entry: crust
    cryovolcano Noun

    volcano that erupts with ice, water, and other materials (such as methane and ammonia), instead of molten rock and ash. Also called an ice volcano.

    ice Noun

    water in its solid form.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ice
    lava Noun

    molten rock, or magma, that erupts from volcanoes or fissures in the Earth's surface.

    molten Adjective

    solid material turned to liquid by heat.

    moon Noun

    natural satellite of a planet.

    Encyclopedic Entry: moon
    Saturn Noun

    sixth planet from the sun.

    Titan Noun

    largest moon of the planet Saturn.