NASA Says Saturn's Moon Enceladus Is Coughing Up Ingredients for Alien Life

NASA has announced that a form of chemical energy that life can feed on appears to exist on Saturn's moon Enceladus.

Cassini's mission ends in September, when the probe will descend into Saturn's atmosphere, sending back as much data as it can before it is destroyed by the heat and pressure.

NASA on Thursday revealed that conditions on Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon orbiting Saturn, may be ideal to support life.

Cassini, an unmanned NASA spacecraft, has detected hydrogen molecules in geysers shooting off the moon Enceladus. On its seafloor, hydrothermal activity that was pouring into its subsurface ocean was found.

On Earth, where we find water, we find life, so that's where we like to look for life in space, too.

"This is the closest we've come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington, stated.

The discovery makes Enceladus the only place beyond Earth where scientists have found direct evidence of a possible energy source for life, according to the findings in the journal Science.

In the final stages of its 13-year-long exploration, Cassini continued its voyage to discover that there is a salty, global ocean under Enceladus' icy crust. Now, this new detection along with a further revelation that Hubble has also just found additional evidence of plumes erupting from Jupiter's moon Europa, these results are tantalising close to answering whether we are indeed alone in the Universe or not.

"Enceladus has nearly all of the ingredients that you would need to support life on Earth", Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker said, Mashable reported.

The primary ingredients required to sustain life include liquid water; a source of energy for metabolism; and the right chemical ingredients, primarily carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. 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.

"This distant moon now joins Mars and Europa as the best potential locations for life beyond Earth in our solar system", said Andrew Coates, a professor of physics at University College London.

Want to learn more about today's announcement of molecular hydrogen on Enceladus?

It turns out that Enceladus has every single of those ingredients necessary for the creation and maintenance and evolution of life. "So money for the moment, is still on Europa - but it could be on any of these moons".

This instrument was created to examine the upper atmosphere of Titan, another of Saturn's 62 known moons.



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