Organic Compounds Found on Saturn Moon Provide Evidence of Sustainable Life
Hydrogen has been detected rising from the subsurface ocean on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, according to CNN. Enceladus has almost all of the “ingredients” needed to support life on earth.
"If the conditions are right, these molecules coming from the deep ocean of Enceladus could be on the same reaction pathway as we see here on Earth. We don't yet know if amino acids are needed for life beyond Earth, but finding the molecules that form amino acids is an important piece of the puzzle," said Nozair Khawaja, who led the research team of the Free University of Berlin.
In 2017, astronomers stated that Enceladus may be the best chance for finding life outside of Earth, in our solar system. This recent detection of hydrogen, along with a prior discovery of complex organic molecules on the moon, adds to the validity of this statement.
NASA mission Cassini studied Saturn and its moons for 13 years, discovering that Enceladus had a global ocean between the icy crust and rocky core. Researchers believe a process involving the formation of amino acids, the building blocks of life, could be unfolding on Enceladus.
There have been proposals for missions to further study Enceladus to NASA. The next step in the process would be a new mission to analyze more data from Enceladus and Saturn.
The recent discovery of hydrogen on Enceladus provides more of the framework needed to consider a planet habitable.