The waters of Enceladus provide an environment in which life could exist. Scientists came to this conclusion after discovering that the icy ocean on Saturn’s moon contains phosphorus.
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Enceladus is the sixth largest natural satellite of Saturn. Its diameter is about 500 kilometers, which is seven times smaller than the diameter of Earth’s moon. Its total area exceeds 800,000 square kilometres, more than twice the size of Poland. It is mainly made of ice.
It is the only known natural satellite in the solar system that influences the chemical composition of its mother planets. Thanks to research conducted by the Herschel Space Observatory in 2011, it is known that there is a ring of water vapor and ice crystals around Saturn, which was formed from water emitted from the surface of the moon, reports the TVP Rozrywka service.
Recent research indicates that the subsurface ocean of Enceladus is rich in soluble phosphorus, making it a habitable environment. The results have been published in the journal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Phosphorus is a chemical element that is an essential building block of all known forms of life. It is part of the DNA and RNA that make up the genetic code. It is formed as a result of supernovae, that is, powerful explosions that end the life of a star. This essential element of existence was most likely brought to Earth comets.
Exploration of Saturn began in the 1980s with the Voyager probe. Since 2004, the Cassini probe has been collecting data on the gas giant and its moons. Enceladus is one of four bodies in the solar system where active volcanic processes have been confirmed. The two probes also discovered that there is a 30-kilometer-deep global ocean of salty water beneath the moon’s thick crust.
When the Cassini spacecraft was orbiting Enceladus, it flew into a cloud of water vapor that gushes from geysers at the icy pole. Moon. In the chemical composition of the water collected and analyzed by the sampler, elements important for the development of life were detected, such as: methane, ammonia, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and possibly hydrogen sulfide.. The Cassini probe has been collecting information about Eceladus through 2017.
In order to confirm scientists’ assumptions about the presence of phosphorus on Enceladus, space agencies must invest in a satellite ocean research mission in terms of assessing the conditions for colonizing organisms.
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