Conditions for life may exist on moon of Saturn

Enceladus 2007

The surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus as seen in 2007. Scientists have found food on that moon that they say could sustain potential life

NASA researchers said there was no evidence as of yet that organisms existed on Enceladus.

"The new finding is finding hydrogen coming from the plume of Enceladus", said Spilker, "and it could support potentially microbes with energy on the seafloor of Enceladus".

Zurbuchen added that the missions were getting humans closer to understanding whether they were "indeed alone or not".

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

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.

"The discovery of native molecular hydrogen [H2] completes the set of what I would call the "basic" requirements for life as we know it: liquid water, organic molecules, minerals, and an accessible source of "free" energy", Lunine explained to Gizmodo.

Hydrogen molecules were detected in vapour plumes emerging from cracks in Enceladus' surface. "It would be like a candy store for microbes", said Hunter Waite, lead author of the Cassini study, according to NASA.

In September, the spacecraft will plunge into Saturn's upper atmosphere, delivering its last images before it disintegrates on its final descent. "After over 10 years of the Cassini mission, this represents a capstone finding for the mission and means that Enceladus has nearly all of the ingredients you would need to support life here on Earth".

The plumes from Enceladus indicate the microbes could mix hydrogen with carbon dioxide within the water to undergo methanogenesis to produce energy and a methane byproduct.

Several moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn are known to contain underground oceans, but Enceladus is the only one where scientists have found proof of an energy source for life.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via REUTERSNASA's Cassini spacecraft is shown diving through the plume of Saturn's moon Enceladus, in 2015, in this photo illustration. The team suggests that this phenomenon is a chemical effect of interactions between the rocky core and warm water from the underground ocean of the moon.

New findings from data collected by NASA's Cassini spacecraft suggest that aliens could be living right here in our own solar system.

Any life, even bacteria, would be a welcome find.

NASA's Enceladus announcement is exciting, because it could prove helpful to a new mission, targeting launch in the 2020s, that will visit another ocean world, Jupiter's moon, Europa.

North Korea will regularly test missiles
Schlumberger Revenue Finally Rises, But Misses Views