Saturn's moon Enceladus has ideal conditions for life

Enceladus 2007

Alien life could exist within our solar system as NASA reveals Saturn's moon Enceladus has all of the ingredients for life after discovery of hydrogen gas, the Daily Mail reported a short while ago.

NASA's press release explained that microbes - if there are any that exist there - could combine hydrogen with carbon dioxide dissolved in water to obtain energy. On its seafloor, hydrothermal activity that was pouring into its subsurface ocean was found.

It shows similarities to Earth's hydrothermal vents, which supports microbial life on the ocean floor through the chemical energy from hydrogen.

Enceladus could contain all the necessary ingredients for life - water, a source of energy and essential elements such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur. The only thing we haven't seen is phosphorus and sulfur, and that's probably because they were in small enough quantities that we didn't see them.

"Although we can't detect life, we've found that there's a food source there for it". Either way the implications are profound.

"This is a very significant finding because the hydrogen could be a potential source of chemical energy for any microbes that might be in Enceladus ocean", NASA Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker said.

NASA has revealed latest details about the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn which created hype about these two gas giants as well as other ocean worlds that exist in our solar system and beyond it. "So we're going to start with bacteria and if we get lucky, maybe there's something that's larger", NASA astrobiology senior scientist Mary Voytek said at a news conference.

"It's another great day of science", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, told reporters.

Hydrogen was detected by Cassini in the gas plumes and icy material that was spotted spraying from Enceladus while it was having a close flyby in October 2015. Scientists determined the gas in the plume almost 98 percent water, about 1 percent of which is hydrogen, with the rest being a mixture of carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia.

Scientists at the Goddard Space Center compared ultraviolet photos the Hubble space telescope took of Europa in 2014, when it first saw the gaseous spray emanating from the moon, and found it again in a 2016 picture.

The new findings, published in the USA journal Science, are an independent line of evidence that hydrothermal activity is taking place in the ocean of Enceladus, a small, icy moon a billion miles farther from the sun than Earth. And part of that could be that we think Enceladus might be fairly young.



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