Recent researches say that Enceladus is the only body besides Planet Earth that ‘simultanoeusly satisfies all the basic requirements for the life we know of it’
The discovery is an outcome of data collected through years of investigation by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft flying close by Saturn’s moons. After 20 years long mission, Cassini retired last year when scientist deliberately plunged in into Saturn.
Enceladus is located 1.27 billion miles away from Earth. Finding its way to discovery in 1789, Saturn’s moon has a surface temperature below -200 Celsius and is 500 km in diameter.
In October 2015, molecular hydrogen was detected on Enceladus during a close fly by. The existing hydrogen is believed to be a product geochemical reaction between rocks in the cracks on the surface and water.
“This is the first-ever detection of complex organics coming from an extraterrestrial water world” – lead author of the study Frank Postberg, a planetary scientist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, told Space.com
Postberg said that with these pieces of evidence, the next logical step will definitely be returning back to Saturn.
Co-author of the paper Dr. Christopher Glein said they are absolutely blown away by the findings.
“Even after its end, the Cassini spacecraft continues to teach us about the potential of Enceladus to advance the field of astrobiology in an ocean world” – Glein said.
Glein said that the findings and development in research are revolutionary and will significantly influence the next generation of space exploration. Glein said that a future spacecraft could possibly fly through the plume of Enceladus and analyze the said organic molecules by using a high-resolution mass spectrometer that will aid in thoroughly studying how they were made.
“We must be cautious, but it is exciting to ponder that this finding indicates that the biological synthesis of organic molecules on Enceladus is possible.” – Glein said.
The groundbreaking study was published in the latest issue of NATURE.
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