REAL LIFE NEWS: ENCELADUS HAS EVERYTHING NEEDED FOR LIFE
Jupiter’s moon Enceladus joins its sister moon Europa in having all the ingredients needed for life to develop, new evidence shows.
Scientists have been examining 12 years of data generated by the Cassini probe, and they have found that the gassy plumes which jet out from Enceladus contain hydrogen. The exact make-up of the spray is about 98% water vapour, 1% hydrogen, and the rest is a mixture of carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia.
The hydrogen is a big deal. Its presence suggests that the gas is being produced by complex chemical reactions in hydrothermal vents underneath the moon’s ocean. The gas could provide the energy that alien microbes need to survive.
Hunter Waite, lead author of the Cassini study, said: “Although we can’t detect life, we’ve found that there’s a food source there for it. It would be like a candy store for microbes.”
Right now NASA is focussed on missions to Europa (see the story in the last Star) but clearly Enceladus should be a future target too.