back to article Best skiing in space is on Saturnian ice moon Enceladus

Anyone who'd like to ski in space should head for Saturn's icy moon Enceladus, according to boffins who've discovered that the superfine ice crystals coating the moon's surface would be perfect powder for skiing. Artist rendering of the surface of Encedalus "Bulky space suits and extremely low gravity aside (the surface …


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  1. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    s'no good for skiing

    Skis work because the snow under them melts, causing a thin film of water which they ride upon.

    at -200c, the "snow" on Enceladus would be more like trying to ski on real talcum powder.

    IIRC, it was the low temperatures causing the snow to behave more like sand that caused a lot of the difficulties Scott encountered in his attempt to reach the South Pole.

    1. Matthew Smith

      Heated skis?

      Whatever suit you are wearing will be very good at generating heat to keep you alive, so channel some of that through the skis as well.

      With the low grav, you could bound up to the top of the highest hill without the need to a ski lift. You might only accelerate slowly downwards, but should be at a fair clip at the bottom.

      (Or, you could run up a ski ramp, orbit the moon once, and land again nearby. Theres good possibilities in this).

      1. Richard 120
        Thumb Up


        And of course you'd want to make the skiis from a heavy dense material too, to help with the gravity.

        Any falls you won't impact as hard so it should be good for fewer bumps and bruises too.

    2. Jim 59


      "the "snow" on Enceladus would be more like trying to ski on real talcum powder."

      ...which would work nicely ? Fine powders (finer than sand) can behave like liquid when disturbed, a property used in earth bound industrial processes.

    3. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Been skiing in cold?

      In my personal experience, skiing is quite possible in -25C n, and I seriously doubt any significant amount of water melts at that temperature (after the ski has cooled: you quickly learn not to put a ski taken from indoors directly onto the snow: it instantly clogs with snow that freezes to it).

      Skis do have more friction in very cold weather, which is why you use harder ski vax under those conditions. Very hard ski vax recommended for Enceladus.

  2. Stuart 2


    Read an article about this before. The ice would not melt as it is too cold, so there is lots of friction, hence it is rubbish for skiing on, would be like skiing down a sand dune made of talcum powder.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      But is it water ice?

      If nitrogen it might work.

      Just don't fall, the explosion caused by the waste heat of your suit would take your head off etc...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1% the gravity of Earth

    Imagine the ski-jumps you could do!

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      yeah, but imagine also the length of run-up you'd need to gain any sort of speed at 1% gravity.

      I'll stick to the Swiss Alps, thanks

  4. BorkedAgain

    I'm pretty sure...

    ...the low gravity would make it a bit rubbish for skiing as well. Like trying to ski in Holland; not enough downhillishness.

    'Scuse technical terms; you know what I'm saying.

    (Surprised nobody's mentioned the lack of atmosphere at the après-ski, come to that...)

    1. boothamshaw

      virtual downhillishness

      simple - use the suit's in-built jet pack to propel yourself happily along at a tidy jog. Slight uphill gradients should be avoided unless you wish to spend the rest of the vacation orbiting Enceladus.

  5. KrisM

    perfect for snowboarding surely

    Everyone know the powder always suits snowboarders better - the skiers like the harder compacted stuff!

    Plus snowbaording on a distant planet is surely only cool enough to be done by boarders?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The problem is that when the boarders put their space helmets on backwards they'll not be able to see where they're going...

  6. Nick Kew


    What's this assumption that the whole bloomin' celestial body has homogenous conditions?

    Bit like observing the cradle of civilization, and concluding the Earth is a balmy planet with (compared to here) hot dry summer, shorter winter, etc ...

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