The Cassini spacecraft found in Enceladus chemical compounds essential for sustaining life. It is a phenomenon similar to that which exists in the depths of the Earth’s oceans.(“extraterrestrial life” in Enceladus, moon of Saturn)
The Cassini spacecraft, which is about to begin the final phase of its mission before crashing into Saturn next September, made two years ago a series of overflights around one of the moons of Saturn, Enceladus.
During one of his deepest dives, the space probe explored the geysers emanating from the cracks located in the polar region south of Enceladus. After analyzing the data obtained, the Hunter Waiter team determined that there was hydrogen and, to a lesser extent, carbon dioxide in the steam leaving those regions of the satellite.(“extraterrestrial life” in Enceladus, moon of Saturn)
On Earth, the presence of life is associated with various chemical elements (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur). To date, since no mission has yet been carried out to explore Saturn’s moon in situ, it is complex to check what Enceladus’s composition is, although we do know that the satellite is covered by an icy layer.(“extraterrestrial life” in Enceladus, moon of Saturn)
NASA scientists dismiss that the elements found can originate through simple geochemical processes. In his view, the chemical ingredients found are critical to a process called methanogenesis, a mechanism that uses some microorganisms on Earth to survive in dark and underwater environments.
The results, published today in the journal Science, not only demonstrate the presence of this compound in the gas columns, but show that the only plausible source of this hydrogen are actually hydrothermal reactions similar to those that occur on earth. “We believe that the most plausible source of this hydrogen is the hydrothermal reactions that take place in contact with the hot rock,” explain the scientists.