Astronomers Find Habitable Zone in Saturn's Moon

NASA may have found the ingredients for sustainable life on Saturn's moon, Enceladus.

"The abundance of H2, along with previously observed carbonate species, suggests a state of chemical disequilibria in the Enceladus ocean that represents a chemical energy source capable of supporting life", Jeffrey Seewald, of the Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in MA, wrote in an accompanying "Perspectives" piece in the same issue of Science.

This is the closest scientists have come to identifying a place having the ingredients for life, said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate.

For life to persist on any planet, it needs three vital energy sources: liquid water, right chemical ingredients (hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, carbon, and phosphorus), and an energy source for metabolism.

Saturn's moon Enceladus and Jupiter's moon Europa have been deemed the places most likely to host life outside of Earth, according to NASA scientists.

In addition now, there is proof that a source of energy, namely hydrogen, exists.

On its last deep dive past the moon in October 2015, the spacecraft measured the chemical composition of one of the vapour plumes using its Mass Spectrometer (INMS) instrument - which sniffs gases to determine their make-up. The data gathered by the Cassini aided scientists to determine that roughly 98 percent of the gas present in the plume is composed of water.

One ingredient found that led to the groundbreaking theory is hydrogen gas, which is abundantly spewed from a plume. Finding this hydrothermal process on Enceladus shows the potential for the existence of life within its ocean.

Cassini has found that nearly all of these ingredients are there on Enceladus, a tiny icy moon at a distance of a billion miles away from Saturn. "Although we can not detect life, we have found that there is a food source there for it", said lead author of the Cassini study Hunter Waite.

The consequent chemical reaction known as methanogenesis, which creates methane as a byproduct, is "at the root of the tree of life" on our planet and could have been crucial to the origin of life on Earth. These organisms could be the foundation of a larger ecosystem in Saturn's moon.

"If there are plumes on Europa, as we now strongly suspect, with the Europa Clipper we will be ready for them", said Jim Green, Director of Planetary Science, at NASA Headquarters.

Recommended News

  • Egypt declares state of emergency after ISIS bombing kills 44

    Egypt declares state of emergency after ISIS bombing kills 44

    Al-Azhar, the world's highest seat of Sunni Islam, called the attacks an "outrageous crime" against all Egyptians. According to the Reuters report, Coptic Christians have been in Egypt since the days of ancient Rome.
    Canada announces legislation to legalize recreational marijuana

    Canada announces legislation to legalize recreational marijuana

    Canada legalized the use of medical marijuana in 1999, initially with strict controls, but the law was broadened over time. The Canadian government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has released their plan to legalize marijuana.
    Cespedes homers 3 times in first 5 innings vs Phillies

    Cespedes homers 3 times in first 5 innings vs Phillies

    It's been an interesting game between the Mets and the Phillies, as both starting pitchers have exited the game due to injury. Despite going four-for-six at the plate , his final line included five runs batted in, three home runs and one double.
  • Kolkata beats Kings XI 8th straight time to leads IPL

    Sunil Narine, promoted to the opener's slot in absence of Chris Lynn, was the first victim of Bhuvneswar's classy bowling. Bhuvneshwar looked risky in his first spell of two overs (2-0-7-1) getting the ball to swing away from the right-hander.

    Boris Johnson Urges Russia to Stop Supporting Bashar Assad

    Before the April 4 chemical attack, the West was "on the verge of a grim consensus", which had now changed, said Johnson. Now, Johnson has said: "Assad uses chemical weapons because they are not only awful and indiscriminate".

    Jimmy Kimmel remembers Don Rickles on his late-night show

    On The Late Show , Stephen Colbert looked back on meeting Rickles backstage at the Emmys: "He hugged me and told me I was good". He was one of the most-iconic comedians of all time, and all it took was a couple of seconds for Kimmel to get choked up.
  • Pence aims to reassure allies amid North Korea threat

    Pence aims to reassure allies amid North Korea threat

    According to the adviser, the test had been expected and the USA had good intelligence both before and after the launch. If North Korea has ICBMs, it could give it the ability to strike targets in the mainland U.S. and Europe.

    N.Korea shows off 'ICBM' during massive parade

    North Korea paraded new missiles during a military celebration in honor of the 105th birthday of its founder, Kim Il Sung. The move triggered questions about Trump's plans for North Korea , which has conducted several missile and nuclear tests.

    N Korea test-fires missile into sea ahead of Trump-Xi summit

    He added it "met standards in all categories" but was programmed to fly only a short distance. South Korea says North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into the waters off its east coast.
  • New York state allots $1M to create hate crimes task force

    New York state allots $1M to create hate crimes task force

    But because middle-class families aren't eligible for Pell grants, they will benefit more from the Excelsior scholarship . The governor's office said it expects it to cost $163 million in the first year, before it's fully phased in.

    Palace humiliates Arsenal, Pressure mounts on Wenger

    Sam Allardyce's Palace moved six points clear of the bottom three and have seven remaining to cement their Premier League status. And we lost many direct duels and second balls because they were sharper than us in the duels, and more decisive.

    President Trump Has Reversed Himself on a Lot of Campaign Promises

    Finally, he flip-flopped on the Export-Import Bank, which he called " unnecessary " during the campaign. "He said I'm a genius". Asked whether Yellen would be "toast" when her term ends , Trump said, "No, not toast". "We're going to rebuild out military".

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.