Looking For Alien Life? Try Saturn's Moon Enceladus

Posted by K R on

If you want to bet on finding alien life in the solar system, forget about Mars . The likely home of ET, or at least his microbial relatives, is moving farther and farther out, first to Jupiter and now to Saturn. It is 20 years since astrobiology, the specialty that deals with unearthly life, turned its attention to Europa, a moon of Jupiter that appears to have an icy surface. After the spacecraft Galileo visited it in 1995, scientists speculated that tidal forces resulting from its slightly eccentric orbit around Jupiter might have created a liquid layer deep beneath the surface. Then came another icy rock, Enceladus, the sixth largest of Saturn’s 62 moons. The Casini spacecraft has made several flybys since 2005. It discovered plumes of water vapour erupting into space from long fractures around the south pole called tiger stripes. Such eruptions are called cryovolcanism. Some of the material ejected from Enceladus created the planet’s E ring. After Casini flew through one of the plumes came word that the geysers contained organic molecules. (Meaning that they are made, in part, of carbon, not necessarily that they were ever alive.) via Forbes.

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