Saturn's moon Enceladus holds 'three of four requirements' for life to exist

Toby Manning
April 21, 2017

With this finding, "we now know Enceladus has nearly all of the ingredients that you need to support life as we know it on Earth", Spilker said.

Sadly, we soon have to say goodbye to Cassini after all the fantastic work it's been doing in studying Saturn and its moons.

An illustration of NASA's Cassini spacecraft flying through the water plumes of Enceladus, an icy moon that orbits Saturn.

The ingredients scientists look for when it comes to the possibility of life as we know it are liquid water, a source of energy for metabolism and the chemicals carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur.

The findings from the Cassini mission reveal that almost all of these ingredients have been detected on Enceladus, except for phosphorous and sulfur.

The discovery of extraterrestrial life in the universe would be a game-changing milestone for science, and new findings revealed by NASA on Thursday give hope we could still uncover that evidence in our own solar system.

On its seafloor, hydrothermal activity that was pouring into its subsurface ocean was found.

In deep thermal vents beneath the oceans here on Earth known as "white smokers", hydrogen gas is formed through interactions between the heated water and surrounding rock.

WASHINGTON-NASA has announced that there may be proof of life outside of earth.

Cassini's INMS was devised to sample the upper atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.

NASA also announced similar activity may be occurring on Jupiter's moon, Europa.

The Cassini spacecraft perceived the presence of hydrogen in the gas plumes and other materials, which were emanating from Enceladus. "This chemical reaction, known as "methanogenesis" because it produces methane as a byproduct, is at the root of the tree of life on Earth, and could even have been critical to the origin of life on our planet". Both of these moons are fairly similar and are judged as the two of the most likely places in our solar system to find alien life. Hydrogen had previously been "elusive", they said, but its detection shows the moon s life-supporting potential.

Like Enceladus, Jupiter's moon Europa also has ocean plumes erupting. Plus, Hubble spies a plume on Europa for the second time.

Mary Voytek, senior astrobiology scientist at NASA Headquarters said there might not be life on either moon, adding, if there is life, it might not be very active.

NASA's upcoming Europa Clipper mission planned for launch in the 2020s will continue the search for life beyond Earth, and will study Enceladus with advanced equipment.

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