There may be alien life on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, say NASA scientists

The US space agency NASA has made a big revelation on its new discoveries on ocean worlds in our solar system on Thursday.

By Zee Media Bureau | Updated: Apr 14, 2017, 15:09 PM IST
There may be alien life on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, say NASA scientists
Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Moscow: The US space agency NASA has made a big revelation on its new discoveries on ocean worlds in our solar system on Thursday.

NASA has confirmed the possibility of life inhabiting Enceladus, the watery moon of Saturn.

Enceladus is covered by oceans of liquid water trapped under a layer of ice.

Saturn probe Cassini spacecraft has observed a plume of water from a crack in Enceladus`s ice.

When Cassini sampled the plume, it found it to be 98 percent water, with the remaining 2 percent consisting of elements like liquid hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane - and traces of organics. And these traces are all signs of the presence of life.

Simple Earth organisms eat methane and excrete carbon dioxide, reports Sputnik.

Hunter Waite of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, who was study lead on the Encephalus plume observation said, "This [molecular hydrogen] is just like the icing on the cake".

As per the official statement, "Now, you see the chemical energy source that microbes could use. The only thing we haven`t seen is phosphorus and sulfur, and that`s probably because they were in small enough quantities that we didn`t see them. We have to go back and look and search for signs of life as well."

Based on the data, NASA believes that it`s possible for simple life such as bacteria to live on the seafloor of Enceladus, adding that they will be excited with any discovery of life.

NASA scientist Linda Spilker said, ''We haven`t discovered evidence of organisms on Enceladus. However, the moon of Saturn has "almost all of the ingredients that you need to support life as we know it on Earth".

She said,''confirmation that the chemical energy for life exists within the ocean of a small moon of Saturn is an important milestone in our search for habitable worlds beyond Earth".

Enceladus is quite small, makes it about 15 percent as large as Earth`s moon.

Andrew Coates, a professor of physics at University College London said, "This distant moon now joins Mars and Europa as the best potential locations for life beyond Earth in our solar system".

NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which was launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004, is set to end its 20-year journey on September 15 this year with a planned plunge.

(With ANI inputs)