Dione – not something that you would probably hear about in everyday conversations bu tin the next few years this name may become one of the most important words in our language.
Well first of all, what is Dione? It is, in fact, one of Saturn’s many moons.
Image kindly reproduced according to the licence at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dione3_cassini_big.jpg
Why has it been thrust into the limelight? Well, it is thought that it has a thin layer of molecular oxygen around the moon.
So what is amazing about that? Well oxygen, is one of the signatures scientists look for in the search for extra terrestrial life. Unfortunately, from Dione’s point of view, it lacks on of the other key ingredients – ie, water.
But it is thought that the other moons of Saturn, in particular Enceladus, Europa, Callisto and Ganymede may harbour liquid water and if they too harbour oxygen, well, who knows what may be found.
The oxygen is thought to form as water (in the form of ice) is split up into hydrogen and oxygen. The energy to do this comes from charged particles formed by the planets strong radiation belts.
Read more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17225127