Is there life on Saturn's ocean-bearing moon Enceladus?

This enhanced-color image of Enceladus by NASA's Cassini spacecraft features the "tiger stripe" fractures, from which geysers blast water ice and other material from the Saturn moon's subsurface ocean out into space.

The findings were announced along with observations by the Hubble Space Telescope of another, much older moon - evidence of plumes spraying out of the surface of Jupiter's Europa.

The chemical ingredients of life include carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur.

Hydrogen's presence could mean that microbes-if any exist there-could be use it to obtain energy by combining the hydrogen with carbon dioxide dissolved in the water.

WASHINGTON-NASA has announced that there may be proof of life outside of earth. However, the moon of Saturn has "almost all of the ingredients that you need to support life as we know it on Earth", said NASA scientist Linda Spilker.

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.

"We now know Enceladus has nearly all the ingredients that you need to support life as you know it on Earth", said Linda Spilker, a Cassini project scientist, during a briefing that announced the new findings. The findings were presented in papers published by researchers with NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn and work on the Hubble Space Telescope. The plume that was first observed in 2014 on the sixth-closest moon to the largest planet indicates that it rises 62 miles over the moon's surface, over an unusually warm part of the body which could show cracks in the moon's icy crust.

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The plumes have led scientists to infer that hydrothermal chemical reactions between the moon s rocky core and its ocean - located under the ice - are likely occurring on Enceladus.

Enceladus has a diameter of 310 miles (500 km) and is one of Saturn's innermost moons.

It was during Cassini's flyby of Enceladus in 2015 that the Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) detected molecular hydrogen as the spacecraft flew through a plume of vapor ejected from the moon's surface.

Cassini has no instruments that can detect life, so it will be up to future robotic visitors to seek out possible life on Enceladus, the scientists said.

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.

"This is truly an exciting time for us to be able to probe those and really try to understand what's happening in these ocean worlds", said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division for NASA, during Thursday's conference.

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