A new study that has been years in the making seems to indicate that one of Saturn’s moons could have the elements for the basic building blocks of life which primarily include liquid water.
According to a newly released statement:
Tiny grains of rock detected by the international Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn point to hydrothermal activity on the seafloor of its icy moon Enceladus.
The finding adds to the tantalising possibility that the moon could contain environments suitable for living organisms.
Understanding the interior structure of 500 km-diameter Enceladus has been a top priority of the Cassini mission since plumes of ice and water vapour were discovered jetting from fractures at the moon’s south pole in 2005.
Ice particles in the plumes were found to be rich in sodium salt, implying that the water has been in contact with rock, and subsequent measurements of the moon’s gravitational field revealed a 10 km deep subsurface ocean at the south pole, below a 30–40 km thick ice crust.
Now, following an extensive, four-year study of data from the spacecraft, combined with computer simulations and laboratory experiments, scientists have been able to gain deeper insights into the chemical reactions taking place on the floor at the base of Enceladus’s ocean.
Pretty cool stuff. The hunt for life in our solar system might be more feasible than we ever believed.