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Dr. Carolyn Porco, a planetary scientist and leader of the Imaging Science team for Cassini, explained to the press in March 2012 that "More than 90 jets of all sizes near Enceladus's south pole are spraying water vapor, icy particles, and organic compounds all over the place. Cassini has flown several times now through this spray and has tasted it. And we have found that aside from water and organic material, there is salt in the icy particles. The salinity is the same as that of Earth's oceans."



The Ocean Worlds Of Our Solar System. There are more than 100 moons in our Solar System that do their mysterious gravitational dance around the eight major planets belonging to our Sun's family. Most of them are icy and small, containing only tiny quantities of rocky material, and they circle around the quartet of giant gaseous planets that dwell in the outer regions of our Solar System. The four majestic, giant denizens of the outer limits--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--are cloaked in blankets of gas, and they are orbited by sparkling, icy moons and moonlets. Of the quartet of relatively small, rocky terrestrial planets--Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars--Mercury and Venus are moonless, and Mars is circled by a pathetic duo of tiny and somewhat deformed moons (Phobos and Deimos). The two little moons of Mars are interesting objects, frequently considered to be asteroids that escaped from the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, only to be snared by the Red Planet's gravitational pull when our Solar System was young. Earth's own beautiful, beguiling, bewitching Moon is the only large one inhabiting the inner kingdom of our Solar System.



The most widely accepted scenario, explaining our Moon's mysterious and ancient birth, is termed the Giant Impact Theory. According to this theory, Earth's Moon was born as the result of a gigantic collision between our still-forming planet and a primordial Mars-sized protoplanet that has been named Theia. The tragedy that was the doomed Theia probably had an orbit that crossed Earth's--making such a catastrophic collision difficult to avoid. It is thought that the impacting Theia hit our planet hard, but swiped it with a glancing blow at precisely the right angle. In fact, Theia came very close to bouncing off Earth, but was swallowed instead. The blast dispatched shock waves across our ancient planet, hurling debris and gas screaming into space. For a short time, Earth had a ring around it that was composed of this ejected material.