Since NASA’s Cassini spacecraft detected gaseous hydrogen spouting from Saturn’s Enceladus, scientists have hypothesized that the moon may have hydrothermal vents capable of supporting life.
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NASA: Saturn’s Ice Moon Enceladus Might Be Capable of Supporting Life
“Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus is looking more and more like a habitable world. The same sorts of chemical reactions that sustain life near deep-sea hydrothermal vents here on Earth could potentially be occurring within Enceladus’ subsurface ocean, a new study published today (April 13) in the journal Science suggests. These reactions depend on the presence of molecular hydrogen (H2), which, the new study reports, is likely being produced continuously by reactions between hot water and rock deep down in Enceladus’ sea.”
NASA Missions Provide New Insights into “Ocean Worlds” in Our Solar System
“Two veteran NASA missions are providing new details about icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn, further heightening the scientific interest of these and other ‘ocean worlds’ in our solar system and beyond. The findings are presented in papers published Thursday by researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn and Hubble Space Telescope. In the papers, Cassini scientists announce that a form of chemical energy that life can feed on appears to exist on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and Hubble researchers report additional evidence of plumes erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa.”
NASA Finds Evidence of Hydrothermal Vents on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus
“When NASA researchers first realized in 2005 that Saturn’s moon Enceladus has liquid water under its surface, they were stunned. ‘Tremendously exciting,’ Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker told Popular Mechanics. ‘I sort of call it jaw-dropping because we were so certain that Enceladus was too small to support activity like this. We expected it to be frozen solid.’ Since then, the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn has sent back amazing visuals and data about this small watery moon, now considered one of the best places to look for life beyond Earth.”
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