Could There be Alien Life on Saturn’s Moon, Enceladus?

02 Juillet, 2018, 14:11 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • The Cassini probe studied Saturn and its moons for more than a decade

Using data gathered from the Cassini spacecraft, researchers found complex organic molecules being ejected into space through vast water vents.

Samples of ice, which found the organics were collected with the automatic interplanetary station "Cassini", flying through the plume of Enceladus.

Cassini was launched in 1997 at a total cost of $3.9 billion ($2.5 billion in pre-launch costs and $1.4 billion in post-launch) and spent 13 years circling, studying and taking data of Saturn and its moons, including Titan, Saturn's largest moon.

One of the team leaders behind the discovery, Frank Postberg of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, believes that these organic materials are nearly certainly coming from hydrothermal vents similar to those we see on the bottom of our own oceans.

A dramatic plume sprays water ice and vapor from the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus.

The study's findings, while exciting, do not concretely prove that there is life on Enceladus, but it is possible, when the complex molecules are combined with liquid water and hydrothermal activity.

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Such large organic molecules can only be formed in complex chemical processes, including those related to the development of life as it is known on Earth.

"In my opinion the fragments we found are of hydrothermal origin, having been processed inside the hydrothermally active core of Enceladus", Postberg said.

Despite the fact that the diameter of Enceladus is only 505 kilometers (vs 12742 Earth), NASA scientists believe the satellite is the most habitable place in the Solar system after our "blue ball".

After rising near the top of the ocean, the bubbles may burst or otherwise disperse the organics, where they were detected by Cassini. Soon to distant celestial body will fly unmanned spacecraft NASA, who will carefully examine the finding and attempt to determine whether the icy moon can inhabit living organisms, according to the with reference to Esoreiter.

The Cassini-Huygens mission, a cooperative project of NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency, deliberately plunged into Saturn on September 15, 2017. The radar instrument was built by JPL and the Italian Space Agency, working with team members from the USA and several European countries.


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