Published: Sun, April 16, 2017
Science | By Boyd Webster

Alien Life Could Be Thriving On Saturn's Moon Enceladus

Alien Life Could Be Thriving On Saturn's Moon Enceladus

The press conference has concluded and NASA has revealed that Enceladus, one of Saturn's 62 confirmed moons, could well be home to conditions that make it suitable for supporting organic life as we know it.

He said Enceladus could feature buildups of precipitates on the ocean floor similar to so-called "white smokers" on Earth, which build up around warm-water vents and provide habitats for animal life beyond the reach of the sun.

"We now know that Enceladus has nearly all of the ingredients you would need for life here on Earth", Spilker added.

"Hydrogen is a source of chemical energy for microbes that live in the Earth's oceans near hydrothermal vents", Dr. Hunter Waite, principal investigator of Cassini's Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) said in a statement.

Extra-terrestrial life may be closer to us than originally thought, beneath the ice-crusted moon of Enceladus, that is, Saturn's moon. Either way the implications are profound.

'This is the closest we've come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment, ' said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. Researchers speculate that, as with Enceladus, this could be evidence of water erupting from the moon's interior.

The latest findings are based on data collected during Cassini's deepest dive through the plumes in October 2015. The team suggests that this phenomenon is a chemical effect of interactions between the rocky core and warm water from the underground ocean of the moon. The other two necessary ingredients are liquid water and the right chemical ingredients, primarily; carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur. Two separate and rather old NASA missions are discovering clues that Enceladus, Saturn's icy moon, and Europa, Jupiter's equally icy moon, might have just the right elements to sustain life, either ours or someone else's.

Hydrogen can react with carbon dioxide dissolved in water to form "methanogenesis", which scientists think might be how life on Earth began.

"It is important to look for life in another part of our solar system - close enough that we can find it", said Lunine.

The space agency presented its findings in a paper, which was published on April 13 in the journal Science.

A plume of water vapor has been seen once again on Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, confirming the existence of water and suggesting that there may be life underneath the satellite's icy exterior.

The only missing evidence of water-rock chemical reactions in Enceladus was molecules of hydrogen, which should be released as a byproduct of the water-rock reactions.

Under Enceladus' frozen surface lies an ocean.

From these current observations researchers have determined that almost 98 percent of the gas in the plume is water, about 1 percent is hydrogen and the rest is a mixture of other molecules including carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia.

Neither the Europa mission nor Cassini - the spacecraft that has been exploring Saturn and its moons for more than a decade - are created to detect life itself. The most recent survey ranked Europa second, however, behind a series of missions to return a sample of Mars to Earth.

This is now the third detection of plumes near the southern polar region of Europa.

Like this: