Apr 17, 2017 02:43 PM EDT
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists recently presented a new set of data from the Cassini mission and the Hubble Space Telescope that shows signs of life in space. According to the report, two of Earth' neighboring planets have moons that could be the realizations of mankind's dream about habitable worlds.
Per The Space Reporter, Saturn's moon Enceladus and Jupiter's satellite Europa are showing promising conditions for life to survive. During Cassini's last flyby of Enceladus, dated October 2015, the ship's Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) detected hydrogen gas in plumes of ice gushing from the surface. NASA first released this information in a press conference on Thursday.
Further tests revealed that the plumes are actually composed of 98 percent water vapor, one percent hydrogen, and a number of carbon dioxide, ammonia, and methane molecules. The plumes were first spotted in 2005 at Saturn's southern part. Cassini was originally designed to study a different moon named Titan but the INMS was eventually used in Enceladus.
For one thing, the hydrogen particles in the plumes are highly likely to interact with the moon's rocky core and warm watery surface. On Earth, experts have learned that microbial life could exist even without sunlight as long as it has an alternative source of energy. Otherwise known as "methanogenesis", energy is produced when combining hydrogen and carbon dioxide dissolved in water.
To prove the theory, bacteria has been found thriving in hydrothermal vents on ocean floors. This particular discovery is groundbreaking because scientists earlier thought that these places are inhabitable. The things needed to support life are water, carbon nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and sulfur.
On the other hand, The Nation reported, the Hubble Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) has seen a similar plume in Europa. Initially detected by the Galileo mission in the 1990s, the plumes may be brought by water erupting from within the moon. Now, in 2022, NASA's Europa Clipper will conduct further studies in this region.
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