Research published on Thursday showed the possibility of life existing on one of the 62 known satellites that orbit Saturn, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has confirmed, according to Reuters. Jets of water shot up by Enceladus, often described as Saturn’s “watery moon”, contain hydrogen that serves as food and fuel for basic animal forms, an article published in the journal Science claims.
The surface of Enceladus is covered by large water bodies trapped under a layer of ice. Periodically, the water bodies release jets of steam through fissures on the surface of the satellite. Nasa’s spacecraft, Cassini, which passed through one of the jets of water released by Enceladus, has found traces of hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane in it, suggesting the presence of basic life forms. “If correct, this observation has fundamental implications for the possibility of life on Enceladus,” geochemist Jeffrey Seewald, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, wrote in a related commentary in Science.
Cassini passed through the plumes of hot water shot up by Enceladus in October 2015. It will wrap up its investigation of Saturn and its satellites soon. Several satellites orbiting Jupiter and Saturn are known to contain underground oceans, but Enceladus is the only one where scientists have found proof of an energy source for life.