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Business News/ Science / News/  Saturn’s ocean moon Enceladus appears to have 'ingredients' to support life: Report
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Saturn’s ocean moon Enceladus appears to have 'ingredients' to support life: Report

Enceladus, only 313 miles (504 kilometers) in diameter, harbors a liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust that spans the entire moon.

Brightly reflective Enceladus appears above the center of the image. (Reuters file photo)Premium
Brightly reflective Enceladus appears above the center of the image. (Reuters file photo)

Saturn’s ocean moon Enceladus appears to have the ingredients for life, reported Space.

Enceladus, only 313 miles (504 kilometers) in diameter, harbors a liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust that spans the entire moon.

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Saturn has total 146 moons, more than any other planet in the solar system.

Cassini-Huygens, a joint mission between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency, investigated Saturn, its rings and moons from 2004 to 2017. It discovered plumes of water from a sub-surface salty ocean, also in contact with rock at the ocean’s floor.

Through an instrument called dust analyser researchers measured the ice grains emitted by Enceladus and found about the composition of the subsurface ocean.

“Just like Earth’s oceans, Enceladus’ ocean contains salt, most of which is sodium chloride, commonly known as table salt," reported Space.

“The ocean also contains various carbon-based compounds, and it has a process called tidal heating that generates energy within the moon. Liquid water, carbon-based chemistry and energy are all key ingredients for life," it added.

In 2023, Fabian Klenner - a planetary scientist and astrobiologist at the University of Washington and others scientists found phosphate, another life-supporting compound, in ice grains originating from Enceladus’ ocean, said the report.

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According to several scientists, a similar setting may have been the birthplace of life on Earth.

Till now, nobody has ever detected life beyond Earth.

In 2022, NASA announced that a mission to Enceladus had the second-highest priority.

Recently, the European agency had also announced that Enceladus is the top target for its next big mission.

Saturn’s two more moons -- Mimas and Titan -- appear to have support for life.

Mimas is the latest to join a growing family of icy moons thought to harbour inner oceans in the Solar System.

In February this year, scientists had said that underneath the Mimas’ icy shell is a vast hidden ocean that has many of the ingredients necessary to host primitive alien life.

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Published: 22 Apr 2024, 05:56 PM IST
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