NASA Discovers That Nearby Ocean Worlds Could Be Best Shot For Extraterrestrial Life

By 04.15.17

NASA discovered evidence that two neighboring ocean worlds in our solar system just might have the right mix to sustain extraterrestrial life. Researchers believe that the icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn could host life.

Thanks to NASA’s Cassini mission and the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA was able to determine that Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus have the right conditions for alien life.

“This is the closest we’ve come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. ”These results demonstrate the interconnected nature of NASA’s science missions that are getting us closer to answering whether we are indeed alone or not.”

The Cassini spacecraft detected hydrogen gas in a plume of gas and icy material spraying from Enceladus during its last, and deepest, dive through the plume on Oct. 28, 2015. Hydrogen gas is pouring into the subsurface ocean of Enceladus from hydrothermal activity on the seafloor then bursting through the moon’s icy crust. This chemical reaction could potentially provide a chemical energy source for life on the ice-covered world that is Saturn’s sixth-largest moon.

Cassini grabbed a sample of plume and scientist determined that nearly 98 percent of the plume is water, about 1 percent is hydrogen, and the rest is a mixture of other molecules including carbon dioxide, methane, and ammonia.



TAGSAliensCassiniEnceladuseuropaExtratjupiterNASAsaturnScienceSpace

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