Enceladus, which stands to be one of the 62 moons in a confirmed orbit around the planet Saturn, has been there in the spotlight since the Cassini spacecraft started orbiting Saturn, fabricating among its moons and rings, in the year 2004. Only when Cassini turned its instruments toward Enceladus we came to know about the moon’s powerful geysers and subsurface saltwater ocean. This week, scientists have made another captivating announcement about the Saturn moon. They said that now they have strong evidence to prove that a habitable area on the floors of Enceladus’ ocean exists.

The ocean of Enceladus is coated by a layer of surface ice. The geysers present on the moon came out from the subsurface ocean through the cracks present in the ice. When the Cassini spacecraft came flying through the plumes of gasses and icy particles that make up Enceladus geysers on October 28th, 2015, which detected an indicative amount of hydrogen molecules. Scientists came up with the confirmation this week saying that the best explanation for this scenario is that hydrothermal reactions keep occurring on Enceladus’ ocean floor. They might be similar to hydrogen-generating interactions which took place at Earth’s hydrothermal vents.

This discovery means that the small, icy moon named Enceladus can have a source of chemical energy that might be useful for living microbes if any of them exist there.

“Most of us would be excited with any life,” said Mary Voytek, an astrobiology senior scientist for NASA. “We’re going to start with bacteria and, if we get lucky, maybe there’s something that’s larger.”

Life is hopefully, going on not on the planet Mars, but beneath the frozen crust of Enceladus. Cassini a spacecraft of NASA has marked up the presence of hydrogen plumes which are emanating from Enceladus. The only source for the plumes is a chemical reaction that happens between warm water and rocks on the floor of the oceans liquid which exists miles below the frozen area of Enceladus. And this is an indication of the possibility of life.

This is hopefully life which probably consists of single-celled extremophiles, or microbes, that use hydrogen as the only source of chemical energy for them.

Microbes are most basic as they haven’t even taken the most critical step to transforming multiple celled linked clusters, the type which lived in the primeval “soup” overflowing on Earth a few billion years ago. So we have a bit of time for waiting till the time our single-celled friends start producing something even more complex – if they can manage to do it.

“It really represents a capstone finding for the mission,” said Cassini’s project scientist, Linda Spilker, noting that the spacecraft has been circling Saturn for more than a decade.

However, the question is that how far is Enceladus? None of the scientists are ever going to get there, at least not very soon. The idea is that we could be able to use it as a sort of holiday home and decamp there while Earth is getting swallowed up by the sun is the of sci-fi. It is 790 million miles away from earth. It took Cassini almost 20 years to reach Enceladus and have made this big discovery, the craft has run out of fuel now. This September it will probably pass through the icy rings of Saturn and vaporize in a moment.

 

 

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