An astonishing discovery near Saturn has floored scientists searching for evidence of alien life in our solar system.
Scientists may have just found something big, really big, near Saturn. It’s a discovery that could represent a huge leap forward in the search for alien life, and make the large Saturn moon of Enceladus ground zero for further research into whether some form of alien life can be found in our solar system.
NASA scientists, using data from the Cassini spacecraft, have found evidence of hydrothermal vents on Eceladus, the sixth largest moon out of more than 60 orbiting Saturn and one of the most studied cosmic objects in our solar system due to its subterranean oceans. These vents appear to be similar to those on Earth, where scientists believe life on this planet originated.
Scientists are hoping these vents may currently host some form of microbial alien life, a discovery that would shake the scientific world to its core were it ever confirmed. The finding suggests that Enceladus should be a key focus in coming NASA research missions.
“Hydrogen is a source of chemical energy for microbes that live in the Earth’s oceans near hydrothermal vents,” said SwRI’s Dr. Hunter Waite, principal investigator of Cassini’s Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS). “Our results indicate the same chemical energy source is present in the ocean of Enceladus. We have not found evidence of the presence of microbial life in the ocean of Enceladus, but the discovery of hydrogen gas and the evidence for ongoing hydrothermal activity offer a tantalizing suggestion that habitable conditions could exist beneath the moon’s icy crust.”
“The amount of molecular hydrogen we detected is high enough to support microbes similar to those that live near hydrothermal vents on Earth,” said SwRI’s Dr. Christopher Glein, a co-author on the paper and a pioneer of extraterrestrial chemical oceanography. “If similar organisms are present in Enceladus, they could ‘burn’ the hydrogen to obtain energy for chemosynthesis, which could conceivably serve as a foundation for a larger ecosystem.”