Saturn's moon Enceladus may hold an incredible secret, one that could forever shake the foundations of science.
Scientists have just stumbled upon something incredible on Saturn’s frigid moon Enceladus, and it could lead to a tremendous breakthrough in the search for alien life on other planets. Researchers think it’s possible that life exists on Enceladus around hydrothermal vents that are similar to those found at the bottom of the Earth’s ocean, which is where scientists believe that life initially began on our planet.
Scientists conducted a chemical analysis of a plume that indicates that conditions are favorable for methanogenesis, which is the generation of methane by microbes gobbling up hydrogen and carbon dioxide for energy. Researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission have found ice plumes on Enceladus that contain molecular hydrogen from hydrothermal vents.
If scientists can confirm the discovery, and they were determined to be similar to those found on Earth, it would have huge implications for life on Enceladus, which is the sixth largest of Saturn’s many moons and has long drawn interest from scientists as a candidate for life in our solar system.
“Hydrogen is a source of chemical energy for microbes that live in the Earth’s oceans near hydrothermal vents,” said SwRI’s Dr. Hunter Waite, principal investigator of Cassini’s Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS). “Our results indicate the same chemical energy source is present in the ocean of Enceladus. We have not found evidence of the presence of microbial life in the ocean of Enceladus, but the discovery of hydrogen gas and the evidence for ongoing hydrothermal activity offer a tantalizing suggestion that habitable conditions could exist beneath the moon’s icy crust.”