On Enceladus found necessary for life ingredients

For the first time in history, in the depths of Saturn’s moon Enceladus found complex organic molecules, according to a new study published June 27 in the journal Nature. Very soon a satellite will travel a spacecraft that will be able to learn more about find and to determine the chances of existence of life in icy moons like Enceladus. Sixth largest moon of Saturn is only 505 kilometres in diameter.

Previously, scientists have found simple organic (carbon) compounds, not more than five carbon atoms in size, in the plumes of Enceladus. Now, however, they managed to find complex organics, including at least 15 carbon atoms in the molecule. This is the first observation of extraterrestrial complex organics in the water world, says the study’s lead author Frank Postberg of the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

The researchers analyzed data collected by Cassini flew through the plume of Enceladus and through the ring E of Saturn, consisting of pellets of ice ejected by Enceladus. It was found that the pellets of ice loaded with organic material in the plume and in the ring E. Then found out that organic materials are “cooked” in a hot, hard, and fragmented the core of Enceladus.

“Through the pores in the core organic falls together with the hot water, and then goes into the cold ocean, up through hydrothermal vents,” says Postberg. “Then it can evaporate to the surface of the ocean in the rising gas bubbles”.

However, most of the loaded organic ice granules were detected in the E ring of Saturn. This may indicate that complex organic molecules were not produced in Enceladus, and become the result caused by sunlight, chemical reactions in space.

Scientists have warned that the new data cannot be taken for solid proof of life, since biological response is not the only potential source of complex organic molecules. The next logical step would be to return to Enceladus and the search for extraterrestrial life there.

“Where else will you find a potentially habitable alien ocean, which is so easy to probe during a space mission, except for Enceladus,” notes Postberg.

The mission of the European space Agency Europa Clipper and JUICE, the launch of which is scheduled for 2022, will visit Europa and Ganymede, icy satellites of Jupiter, which have subsurface oceans. These missions will search for life on these celestial bodies, and for Enceladus is already actively developing new projects.

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