Moon: Saturn’s moon Enceladus, with its global underground ocean, is considered by many scientists to be one of the best places to look for life outside of Earth. New research, already peer-reviewed and published June 8 in the journal Nature, suggests that the existence of life is quite possible – and that we may even already have proof of this, captured by the Cassini spacecraft. One thing is certain: something in this ocean is producing a lot of methane.
Is methane proof of life?
According to the biologists who were the authors of the research, it is a strong indication. The material published in Nature suggests that methane is being produced in a way similar to what methanogenic microbes do in Earth’s oceans: biodigestion.
The data obtained by the Cassini spacecraft, which flew over Enceladus several times, even passing through the erupting water vapor emanating from slits in the south pole of the moon, that are surprising. This vapor comes from the ocean that lies beneath Enceladus’ icy outer surface. The probe also found ice particles, salts, hydrogen and organic molecules in the atmosphere, evidence of an ocean that is similar to those on Earth. There is also evidence of hydrothermal vents there.