NASA Says Saturn's Moon Enceladus Is Coughing Up Ingredients for Alien Life

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. New ocean world discoveries from Cassini and Hubble will help inform future exploration and the broader search for life beyond Earth.

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

Researchers believe that three ingredients are needed for supporting life on earth water, organic molecules and a source of energy.

The paper from researchers with the Cassini mission, published in the journal Science, indicates hydrogen gas, which could potentially provide a chemical energy source for life, is pouring into the subsurface ocean of Enceladus from hydrothermal activity on the seafloor.

The discovery of this chemical energy source means Enceladus is now the very best place to look for life outside of Earth, with conditions that could be just right for alien microbes to survive.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, called Saturn's moon Enceladus "the closest we've come" to identifying a planet with the necessary ingredients for a habitable planet. But Waite and his colleagues used the onboard mass spectrometer to study the plumes, and discovered molecular hydrogen - which happens to be a key food source for microbes living around hydrothermal vents on Earth.

She enumerated the elements found on Saturn's moon as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.

As per reports, Cassini is not able to detect life, and has found no evidence that Enceladus is inhabited.

Tomas Hertl: Tomas Hertl and Sharks blanked by Oilers
Jones set aside 34 of 36 shots, but was handed a 2-0 road loss to the Oilers on Friday, knotting the series at one game apiece. The Edmonton Oilers need a victory here to tie the series up before heading to the SAP Center. "They had the puck all night".

NASA scientists have discovered key ingredients for life in geysers on the surface of Saturn's moon, Enceladus, the space agency said Thursday.

But in 2005 the unmanned Cassini spacecraft was orbiting Saturn when it picked up plumes of vapour coming from the "tiger stripes", or deep fissures, in the moon's surface.

This graphic shows how Cassini scientists think water interacts with rock at the bottom of the ocean of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus, producing hydrogen gas.

This illustration shows Cassini diving through the Enceladus plume in 2015.

How Did The Cassini Spacecraft Detect Hydrogen?

"After Hubble imaged this new plume-like feature on Europa, we looked at that location on the Galileo thermal map". Analysis determined that it was unlikely that the observed hydrogen was acquired during the formation of Enceladus or from other processes on the moon's surface or in the interior.

NASA's Planetary Science Division Director, James Green, said: "We're pushing the frontiers".

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