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Researchers Discover Subsurface Ocean on Saturn’s Dione Moon with potential for Life

Using gravity data from the Cassini probe, researchers at the Royal Observatory of Belgium say Dione joins Titan and Enceladus as Saturn moons likely having subsurface oceans

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Dione with Enceladus in the background. This image was taken by the Cassini spacecraft on 8 September 2015.

October 7, 2016: A third Saturn moon may have a subsurface ocean with potential for life, researchers say.

Using gravity data from the Cassini probe, researchers at the Royal Observatory of Belgium say Dione joins Titan and Enceladus as Saturn moons likely having subsurface oceans.

Researchers say Dione’s ocean is likely 100 kilometres beneath the surface, “several tens of kilometres deep” and surrounds a rocky core.

Unlike Enceladus, which has geysers of water that spurt from the southern polar region, Dione appears “quiet” now, but researchers say it likely had a more active past.

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Enceladus’ ocean, according to researchers, is likely much closer to the surface, particularly in the southern polar regions where the icy crust might be only a few kilometres thick.

One way Enceladus’ ocean was discovered was by observing “large back-and-forth oscillations, called libration.” If the libration was smaller on the moon, it would likely mean the crust was thicker.

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“Like Enceladus, Dione librates but below the detection level of Cassini,” said Antony Trinh, co-author of the new study. “A future orbiter hopping around Saturn’s moons could test this prediction.”

Numerous plumes are seen rising from long tiger-stripe canyons across Enceladus' craggy surface. Continued study of the ice plumes may yield further clues as to whether underground oceans, candidates for containing life, exist on this distant ice world.
Numerous plumes are seen rising from long tiger-stripe canyons across Enceladus’ craggy surface. Continued study of the ice plumes may yield further clues as to whether underground oceans, candidates for containing life, exist on this distant ice world. VOA

Dione’s ocean has likely been there since the moon formed, researchers said, adding that it could be host to microbial life.

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“The contact between the ocean and the rocky core is crucial,” said Attilio Rivoldini, co-author of the study. “Rock-water interactions provide key nutrients and a source of energy, both being essential ingredients for life.”

The study was published online this week in Geophysical Research Letters. (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google comes up with a new feature

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?