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Enceladus could support alien life, says NASA


Posted on Thursday, 13 April, 2017 | Comment icon 15 comments

Could there be alien life on Enceladus ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The space agency has discovered all the crucial ingredients for life in the oceans of Saturn's icy moon.
During a press conference held today, NASA scientists have revealed the discovery of molecular hydrogen in jets of water erupting from deep beneath the surface of Enceladus.

Molecular hydrogen is important because on Earth it provides energy for entire ecosystems such as those living around hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the sea. Such creatures eat the hydrogen and release methane - a gas that has also been found on Enceladus.

"We now know there's not only a warm, wet environment - we now realise there's food for life," said astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell. "There's fuel for an ecosystem on Enceladus."

So could there really be extraterrestrial life living in the depths of Saturn's icy moon ?

Right now we don't know, but there is likely to be a great deal of interest in launching additional robotic missions to Enceladus over the next few years in an attempt to find out.

As it stands, there's a real chance we may actually have alien life living right on our doorstep.

Source: Independent | Comments (15)

Tags: Saturn, Enceladus

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 12 April, 2017, 21:42
After doing a bit of digging on some of the more reputable sites I found a story which I now can't find again (which may mean that it was accidentally published before the embargo was lifted or that I am just rubbish at googling). It seems that what NASA is going to announce tomorrow is that they had discovered that hydrothermal activity on Enceladus is converting carbon dioxide into methane.This implies that there are possible habitable zones in the ocean of Enceladus.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Eldorado on 13 April, 2017, 0:06
This it? http://astrobiology.com/2017/04/hydrothermal-activity-in-the-seas-of-enceladus-implications-for-habitable-zones.html
Comment icon #8 Posted by Sherry Gibson on 13 April, 2017, 5:56
I would think that with technologies help,  we should continue looking ever so carefully.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Timonthy on 13 April, 2017, 11:21
It looks like you're on the money, this has just popped up in the last two hours: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/space/200-billion-reasons-why-were-not-alone-and-one-is-coming-tonight/news-story/a474bbd89e9165e0ab4284057a3d0137'NASA is due to announce within hours conditions for life exist on one of Saturn’s 62 moons. That, it turns out, is just the beginning.' Edit: And another quick little quote from the article says; ' Extrapolating that out to the whole universe, this means that there are up to 40 billion trillion potentially habitable planets out there. ' I don't care what anyo... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by Merc14 on 13 April, 2017, 18:19
 
Comment icon #11 Posted by Why not on 13 April, 2017, 20:23
I was thinking in regards of finding other worlds with everything needed right there for life as we know it, and not finding any. Just kinda a thought I have about how we would interpret it. I'll go with the statistics, but just a curiosity. 
Comment icon #12 Posted by FateAmeniableToChange on 13 April, 2017, 20:38
Waspie_Dwarf i think i saw same link as you yesterday too, i think it may have been at ScienceDaily?
Comment icon #13 Posted by Merc14 on 15 April, 2017, 2:11
Some more details on the Cassini dive through the plume.  http://www.space.com/36455-saturn-moon-enceladus-energy-source-life.html?utm_source=sp-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20170414-sdc This plunge was special in several ways. For one thing, it was Cassini's deepest-ever dive through the plume; the probe got within a mere 30 miles (49 km) of Enceladus' surface. In addition, Cassini's Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) instrument alternated between "open-source" and "closed-source" modes during the encounter, rather than sticking to closed source (the usual routine). ... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by Frank Merton on 15 April, 2017, 3:21
I would not be surprised at the finding of life around thermal vents all over the place.  This may even be where life on earth originated, or survived the ice-earth that happened a couple of times.   I'm sure this will be great for the biochemists.  
Comment icon #15 Posted by khol on 15 April, 2017, 3:44
Life abounds around the thermal vents here on Earth. Microbes that have evolved and flourished around these vents through chemosynthesis are thought to be one of the oldest forms of life known. http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-videos/hydrothermal-vent-creatures    


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