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By Andrew Follet
The Cassini space probe detected hydrogen coming from Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, which suggests alien life could develop there, according to NASA.
NASA said Enceladus has “almost all of the ingredients needed to support life as we know it on Earth,” but admitted they found no living organisms. Hydrogen is an excellent source of chemical energy that supports life near deep sea hydrothermal vents on Earth. Scientists think this kind of chemical reaction could have been the origin of life on Earth.
NASA also announced similar activity may be occurring on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. The Hubble Space Telescope spotted plumes on Europa, suggesting powerful thermal sources on the moon’s surface.
Enceladus and Europa are protected by an ice shell which maintains a liquid water ocean. Both of these moons are fairly similar and are judged as the two of the most likely places in our solar system to find alien life. Life on Earth may have emerged from similar deep-ocean hydrothermal vents.
“Here on Earth there are a number of things that protect life. With this research, we are making a big step forward towards answering the question, ‘Is there life out there?’” associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said during the NASA press conference announcing the discovery.
Enceladus and Europa probably have watery and salty oceans similar to those of Earth’s below the ice, likely kept warm by complex gravitational interactions and the planet’s core.
“The search for life beyond Earth has enthralled humans for ages,” Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 directs NASA to continue to search for life and advance the science of astronomy, astrophysics and astrobiology. NASA’s effort to search for life on ocean worlds is an important step in these efforts.”
The Europa Clipper is a NASA robotic probe intended to launch sometime in the early 2020s. The probe will investigate the icy moon’s potential for human colonization and alien life.
Geologists announced in September that earthquakes on Earth can produce hydrogen. They concluded that the same kind of “Marsquakes” could also produce hydrogen on Mars, removing a major barrier to life. The Red Planet’s atmosphere is rich in oxygen, so an ample supply of hydrogen may indicate that water is more common on Mars than generally believed.