Moons of Jupiter & Saturn May Hold Ingredients For Life

Moons of Jupiter & Saturn May Hold Ingredients For Life

Moons of Jupiter & Saturn May Hold Ingredients For Life

That is the question NASA scientists are asking after an awesome discovery on Enceladus, a moon of the planet Saturn.

In a first confirmation of its kind, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has confirmed the possibility of life inhabiting Enceladus, the watery moon of Saturn. Scientists suspect that this is what's happening on Enceladus, hence the presence of molecular hydrogen in the plumes. The Hubble Space Telescope has observed what looks to be plumes emanating from Europa.

The energy can be obtained from the combination of hydrogen and carbon dioxide dissolved in water.

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.

Scientists say one of Saturn's outer rings was actually formed from hydrogen rich water and ice being released from Enceladus.

"We have detected hydrogen in the plume on Enceladus".

Twitter was gung-ho about investigating more closely, although at least one tweeter was rather blasé about the find.

Analysis has shown the water plumes coming off the moon mainly consist of tiny particles of water ice, with traces of methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide, salts, and simple organic molecules.

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

The findings were announced Thursday in the journal Science.

The latest findings suggest that Enceladus - a small, icy moon a billion miles farther from the sun than Earth - has almost all of these ingredients for habitability. This doesn't mean that there is life on Enceladus, but it is possible that some form of life exists there.

Enceladus is quite small, makes it about 15 percent as large as Earth's moon.

"Enceladus is high on the list in the solar system for showing habitable conditions", said Hunter Waite, the lead author of the study."There is chemical potential to support microbial systems".

"It really represents a capstone finding for the mission", Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker said. "So money for the moment, is still on Europa - but it could be on any of these moons".

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