NASA researchers are finding increasing evidence the building blocks for life may be on two moons inside our solar system.
NASA revealed the new information, which came from Cassini mission data, at a news conference Thursday. “Ocean worlds” on moons of Jupiter and Saturn contain water and other chemical components on which life could build, papers published Thursday detailed.
Saturn’s moon Enceladus has hydrogen gas pouring into the ocean from underneath, NASA said Cassini data indicated. The spacecraft traveled through the plume in October 2015 and detected the gas.
Meanwhile, plumes also were observed erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa.
Hydrogen can react with carbon dioxide dissolved in water to form “methanogenesis,” which scientists think might be how life on Earth began.
Enceladus is an icy moon a billion miles farther away from the sun than Earth is.
“Enceladus has almost all of the ingredients that you would need to support life on Earth,” Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker said, Mashable reported.
Phosphorus and sulfur are needed for life and have not been detected by Cassini, but scientists think they are there because the core of Enceladus is thought to be similar chemically to meteorites that contain the elements, NASA reported.
The Cassini craft was not designed to detect signs of life, and scientists did not know the plume existed until they received data showing its existence.
Twitter was gung-ho about investigating more closely, although at least one tweeter was rather blasé about the find.
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