NewsFix in Space: NASA announces possible life on another planet

Eloi Lecerf
Abril 19, 2017

The paper from researchers with the Cassini mission was published Thursday in the journal Science. The disequilibria could represent the chemical energy source needed to support life.

Zurbuchen added that the missions were getting humans closer to understanding whether they were "indeed alone or not". If that is the case, then it is also reasonable to think that microbe life - if it exists - could be flourishing due to a process known as "methanogenesis".

The necessary ingredients for life as we know it include liquid water, energy sources and chemicals such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus.

The plumes have led scientists to infer that hydrothermal chemical reactions between the moon s rocky core and its ocean - located under the ice - are likely occurring on Enceladus.

"Although we can't detect life, we've found that there's a food source there for it".

While Cassini is reaching the end of its life, NASA has already confirmed that it will be sending a probe to Europa, another "ocean world" orbiting Jupiter that has numerous same characteristics as Enceladus.

The data was collected by the Cassini spacecraft that has been orbiting Saturn since 2004.

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During Cassini's close flyby of Enceladus on October 28, 2015, INMS detected molecular hydrogen as the spacecraft flew through the plume of gas and ice grains spewing from cracks on the surface.

It was after the Cassini spacecraft which flew through a huge plume of water that the findings surfaced up.

The scientific team analysed water samples taken by Nasa's Cassini space probe on a mission in 2015. On the other hand, the fact that we can measure high concentration of carbon dioxide and hydrogen means there might not be life at all or it is not very active.

The scientists measured the gases using the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer instrument belonging to the space craft. This instrument was created to examine the upper atmosphere of Titan, another of Saturn's 62 known moons. Cassini dived deep into one of its oceans -which is constantly throwing high-powered jets of water- where the startling discovery was made.

The researchers believe the gas is pouring into the moon's subsurface ocean through hydrothermal activity on the seafloor.

Older results have suggested that the hot water is intermingling with the rock underneath the sea. These reactions may develop an environment that supports life.

Dr David Clements, an astrophysicist at Imperial College London, said: "This discovery does not mean that life exists on Enceladus, but it is a step on the way to that result".

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