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Space & Astronomy

Enceladus ocean 'could have evolved life'

By T.K. Randall
November 7, 2017 · Comment icon 6 comments

Enceladus is looking like an increasingly good place to search for life. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Scientists now believe that the ocean of Enceladus has been around long enough for life to have evolved there.
Of all the discoveries made by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its 13 years in orbit around Saturn, those concerning the gas giant's enigmatic moon Enceladus are perhaps the most enticing.

The surface of this mysterious world is home to huge plumes of salty water-ice and below its icy crust there is thought to be an ocean of liquid water capable of supporting primitive life forms.

Now in a new study, scientists have been able to determine that the tidal forces responsible for heating up the interior of Enceladus are likely to have kept its subterranean sea liquid for billions of years.
The find significantly increases the likelihood that life might have evolved there.

"What we show is hydrothermal processes probably provide means to have efficient interactions between rocks and hot water in a large volume deep within the moon," said Dr Gael Choblet.

"What had been shown earlier is hydrothermal processes were very likely occurring right now within Enceladus. What we show in our study is the context of this activity."

"We also suggest this activity is relatively stable - for at least tens of millions of years."

Source: Phys.org | Comments (6)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
Arthur C. Clarke would have been excited as well.
Comment icon #2 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
So cool! If we find any life, I hope we have enough sense to not contaminate it.
Comment icon #3 Posted by _KB_ 7 years ago
I say we shoot a rocket with all kinds of durable microbes and stuff with a decent chance of survival there, if they don't have life there yet let's start it, it's fun playing god
Comment icon #4 Posted by Merc14 7 years ago
What an incredibly complex mission it would be to get through 20+ miles of ice and then descend through 6 miles of ocean to get to the bottom so we could explore for the vents on the floor of ocean where, presumably, life would be.  How would you even communicate with earth through through all of it?   
Comment icon #5 Posted by qxcontinuum 7 years ago
agree , it seems impossible to complete unless it will be approach this differently. More like a "fish finder" works, find a way to sink the probe (sonar) in the water, probably using the gazers openings .. Other than it i am not sure if existent technology allows a walking robot on icy surface to penetrate this debt and scan for life activity ...
Comment icon #6 Posted by TonopahRick 7 years ago
We'll never know if we don't try.


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