: Scientists found that large, carbon-rich organic molecules are ejected from cracks in the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, indicating it satisfies all of the basic requirements for life.
Researchers, who used data from the NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, think chemical reactions between the moon’s rocky core and warm water from its subsurface ocean are linked to these complex molecules.
“We are, yet again, blown away by Enceladus. Previously we’d only identified the simplest organic molecules containing a few carbon atoms, but even that was very intriguing,” said Christopher Glein, a space scientist from Southwest Research Institute in the US.
“Now we’ve found organic molecules with masses above 200 atomic mass units. That’s over ten times heavier than methane,” said Glein.
“With complex organic molecules emanating from its liquid water ocean, this moon is the only body besides Earth known to simultaneously satisfy all of the basic requirements for life as we know it,” he said.
“Hydrogen provides a source of chemical energy supporting microbes that live in the Earth’s oceans near hydrothermal vents,” said Hunter Waite, from Southwest Research Institute.
“The paper’s findings also have great significance for the next generation of exploration,” Glein said.
“A future spacecraft could fly through the plume of Enceladus, and analyse those complex organic molecules using a high-resolution mass spectrometer to help us determine how they were made,” he said.
“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,” he added.PTI
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