"Chemical disequilibrium that is known to support microbial life in Earth's deep oceans is also available to support life in the Enceladus ocean". Details of new findings about ocean worlds in our solar system, arising from discoveries by the agency's Cassini spacecraft and the Hubble Space Telescope were announced live by the agency.
NASA may have found the ingredients for sustainable life on Saturn's moon, Enceladus.
The findings were reported Thursday in the journal Science by a team from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
The moon Enceladus is just 502 kilometers (311 miles) in diameter and has an icy surface, a rocky interior and an ocean of liquid water sandwiched between the two.
Cassini has detected hydrogen molecules in vapor plumes emanating from cracks in the surface of Enceladus, a small ocean moon coated in a thick layer of ice, the USA space agency said.
NASA researchers said there was no evidence as of yet that organisms existed on Enceladus.
NASA said that future missions to Saturn's icy moon Enceladus may shed light on its habitability.
Enceladus, which is 502kms across, is one of numerous moons orbiting Saturn, the largest of which, Titan, is bigger than the planet Mercury.
That is the question NASA scientists are asking after an awesome discovery on Enceladus, a moon of the planet Saturn. This moon of Saturn likely has a global subsurface ocean.
On Earth, where we find water, we find life, so that's where we like to look for life in space, too. They found that there is a plume coming from the moon's surface in an area that had shown plumes in the past, NASA specialists speculated that this may mean the same thing is happening on Europa as is happening on Enceladus. After Cassini's surprising discovery of a towering plume of icy spray in 2005, emanating from hot cracks near the south pole, scientists turned its detectors toward the small moon. This process was integral to the origination of life on Earth and it is believed, methanogenesis may have been pivotal to the formation of life on our planet.
The plumes are 98 percent water, scientists said, with traces of molecules including ammonia, carbon dioxide and methane.
NASA's upcoming Europa Clipper mission planned for launch in the 2020s will continue the search for life beyond Earth, and will study Enceladus with advanced equipment.
So which moon offers more possibility of life, Europa or Enceladus?
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