Geyser-like plumes of ice which erupt from the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus have offered a new hint that alien life could lurk in the moon’s subsurface ocean.
Scientists found large carbon-rich organic molecules emanating from a liquid water ocean beneath the moon’s surface.
That makes Enceladus the only other place apart from Earth in the solar system which satisfies all the basic requirements for life.
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NASA’s Cassini probe sampled a plume of material erupting from Enceladus’s surface.
Scientists believe that the complex carbon molecules are linked to chemical reactions between the moon’s rocky core and warm water from an ocean under the surface.
Christopher Glein of the Southwest Research Institute said, ‘Previously we’d only identified the simplest organic molecules containing a few carbon atoms.
‘Now we’ve found organic molecules with masses above 200 atomic mass units. That’s over ten times heavier than methane.’