Saturn moon Enceladus harbors key ingredient for life

A new investigation of data collected by NASA’s Cassini mission, which ended six years ago, has revealed that the spacecraft spotted a key ingredient needed for life on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. The Cassini observations have revealed a powerful energy source for potential lifeforms deep below the icy shell of this moon. 

Enceladus blasts out plumes of ice and water from fissures in its icy shell, and scientists have known for some time that organic molecules — some of which may have the right chemistry to be important for life as we know it — are contained in these jets. In 2017, scientists found carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen in Enceladus’ plumes, indicative of a metabolic process called methanogenesis. As its name suggests, methanogenesis produces methane, which is widespread here on Earth and could be a sign of life on other worlds.


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