They don’t know whether or not there’s life on Enceladus, but one thing is for sure, they have what’s needed.
On Thursday the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration hosted a huge conference to announced their newest findings from their search for life beyond planet Earth. The main focus was on Enceladus, a small moon orbiting Saturn.
It was announced that the planet is abundant in hydrogen, which was captured shooting out through the moon’s frozen crust. This leads to the conclusion that not only is Enceladus alive with chemical and hydrothermal cycles, but it can also support life forms.
Hydrogen itself is one of the primary food sources for some of the most ancient life forms on planet Earth. While you’d expect that alien life are tiny green people with laser guns, they might be much simpler life forms, like plants and bacteria.
If life exists on Saturn’s moon, it would likely feed on hydrogen and release methane – another gas found on Enceladus.
Further research from data collected when the Cassini craft passed by the moon indicate that it was surrounded by large amounts of carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide and hydrogen together are essential for a process known as methanogenesis, a reaction that sustains microbial life in dark, undersea environments on Earth. Enceladus has similar oceans flowing underneath its frozen crust.
Since the gases were found shooting through the crust, it means that the moon has a hot core, a source of energy, which completes the three essential elements needed to sustain life, water, organic molecules and a source of energy.
While the ecosystem of Enceladus hasn’t yet been directly studied, further research and missions are needed. But one thing is for sure, it has all the right conditions.