Discovery

NASA Found Evidence That Saturn’s Moon, Enceladus, Could Host Alien Life

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Today at 2pm NASA announced the discovery that one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, is likely habitable and has almost all of the ingredients for life to form.

It’s an unexplored water world about the same size as our own moon covered by a layer of ice. The moon can be seen wobbling through its orbit around Saturn due to water sloshing around.  NASA recently sent the cassini spacecraft over it’s plumes of water that are sprayed into space through vents at its south pole.  It discovered evidence that hydrothermal activity on the floor of its ocean is most likely creating methane from carbon dioxide.

A hydrothermal Vent is like an underwater geyser that forms along the ridges or openings in the sea floor.  Cold sea water is mixed with hot magma that creates a chemical reaction which produces minerals and chemicals.  They discovered this after the cassini spacecraft made it’s closest approach (30 miles) and detected significantly high amounts of hydrogen.  We know something must be creating this hydrogen. We don’t know for sure which process is creating it, but it’s most likely hydrothermal activity.

Earth has many hydrothermal vents where hot water from deep inside earth reaches the ocean.  If you were to take Earth’s microbes to enceladus, they’d likely survive.  Many scientists believe that life on earth first originated inside these hydrothermal vents.  Their theory is backed up by fossil evidence.  It’s also possible that there is a form of life in Enceladus’ ocean that is eating up hydrogen and creating methane and carbon dioxide, like we see on earth. The hydrothermal vents on earth typically have microorganisms that get their energy from the mineralogical chemistry around the vents, they don’t need the sun.

So did NASA find evidence of life on Enceladus? Not exactly, but we did find evidence that there might be places on enceladus that are similar to places on Earth where extreme forms of life live, called extremophiles.

Even if there is no life on Enceladus this is still exciting news, many other moons have oceans, like Jupiter’s moon, Europa, which has a subsurface ocean that also vents plumes of liquid into space. Mimas, Ganymede, and Callisto could also have an ocean, and that’s just the moons of Saturn and Jupiter. We think Pluto and Ceres might have an ocean too.

The spacecrafts scientists want to go back to enceladus and send a craft specifically designed to search for life in the big cracks on the moons surface, we need to drill into the ice and test it.

And that’s just within our solar system, out of the 2 trillion galaxies in our universe, I would say it’s safe to say we’re not alone.

Comment any questions you have below and I will respond! Don’t forget to share this incredible discovery using the social share buttons below!

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The Plumes On Enceladus Captured By Cassini

The Plumes On Enceladus Captured By Cassini

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Lucas Cendre

    April 13, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Hi ! I’ve just discovered your website and really enjoyed it, as well as your article. But I’m french and some technical terms are a bit difficult to understand. So there is my question: What does ‘vents plumes’ mean ?
    Thanks in advance for your reply, with big respect from france towards your work.

    • @space (instagram) | SpaceTravel.com

      April 13, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      Hey Thanks! This just means that there are vents on the moon where plumes of water (jets/streams) are ejected out into space. So just imagine how a geyser shoots water out of earth and you should understand it better 🙂

  2. Josh

    April 13, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    I’m only young and don’t want to sound silly but what ‘properties’ would life have to have on that moon and would they look the same if you understand. Like I said I might sound silly and be way off but yeah.

    • @space (instagram) | SpaceTravel.com

      April 13, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      hey that’s a good question. Well as far as this discovery, it’s possible there are microorganisms that eat hydrogen, so this could be the start to aquatic life/small organisms that live in water. Any type of life would be incredible but hypothetically if we did find living things swimming around, I wouldn’t be surprised if it looked similar to the life we have on earth. If we’re finding the same biological and chemical processes on Enceladus, it could follow a similar evolution. Hope that gives you a better idea feel free to respond if you have more questions.

  3. David

    April 13, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    If NASA sends a space probe, how long would it approximately take to get to the moon?
    Thanks!

    • @space (instagram) | SpaceTravel.com

      April 13, 2017 at 5:13 pm

      It depends, it could take 2-4 years. I think they could do it in 2 or maybe even a little shorter because thats how long it took New Horizons to reach jupiter.

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