Conditions for life may exist on moon of Saturn

Meanwhile, scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope observed a warm jet of water shooting out of the warmest part of Europa, one of Saturn's moons that is composed of an icy layer over a salty liquid ocean of water.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has detected hydrogen in a plume of gas and icy particles spraying from Saturn's moon Enceladus, prompting the question could it be a suitable energy source for microbes to exist in its sub-surface oceans. The findings from the Cassini mission reveal that almost all of these ingredients have been detected on Enceladus, except for phosphorous and sulfur.

The US space agency has also released a video explaining that Saturn's icy moon Enceladus has all the basic ingredients for life.

The research is published a paper in the journal Science and it is noted that hydrogen gas is a potential "chemical energy source for life" and has been found present in the plumes.

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.

The unmanned Cassini spacecraft detected the hydrogen in the plume of gas and icy material emanating from hot cracks near the south pole of Enceladus during its last and deepest, dive through the plume on October 28, 2015.

After that ends, it's not clear when another spacecraft will head to Saturn's moon.

"Based on the data, NASA believes that it's possible for simple life such as bacteria to live on the seafloor of Enceladus, adding that they will be excited with any discovery of life".

During earlier flybys, the spacecraft also sampled the gas plumes' composition.

"It really represents a capstone finding for the mission", Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker said.

The moon Enceladus is of special interest.

However, post the discovery of the icy spray by Cassini in 2005, the researchers shifted the detectors toward Enceladus.

The researchers discovered that 98 percent of the gas content present in its plume is water, just one percent of it is hydrogen and the remaining one percent comprises of molecules of carbon dioxide, ammonia and methane.

Older results have suggested that the hot water is intermingling with the rock underneath the sea.

And on Jupiter's moon Europa, that Hubble Space Telescope has spotted an huge plume above its icy crust.

"We keep looking and we keep finding locations within the solar system where we have growing prospects of finding microbial life", Carberry told the Herald.

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