More Evidence for Life Off Earth

Another reason that there could be life on the moon of Saturn, Enceladus, has appeared. There has been speculation that the moon of Saturn has water ever since 2005, when geysers were discovered. Water is one of the big parameters for the existence of life. Since then, it has been highly speculated that under the surface of Enceladus there is an entire ocean.

However, recently it has been discovered that there may be hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean of Enceladus. This is a very important discovery, because these same vents appear on Earth. In these hydrothermal vents on Earth, there are microbes and other forms of life. Recently a study, done by Madeline C. Weiss and Filipa L. Sousa and published in Nature Microbiology, make the argument that it is in the vents that life on Earth began. These hydrothermal vents eject molecular hydrogen. Simple cells would absorb the hydrogen which would give them enough energy to reproduce and pass on the information that they had stored. This is considered plausible because reproducing, which involves assembling new proteins and building cells from scratch, requires a lot of energy. The hydrogen coming out of these vents would give these early microbes enough energy to do so.

The Cassini craft is said to have observed molecular hydrogen coming out of the geysers on the moon Enceladus. Researchers are almost sure that this hydrogen must be coming from hydrothermal vents. This gives more “life” (no pun intended) to the idea that there are at least simple microbes existing on the moon. However, it will take many years until we are better able to explore Enceladus and confirm this theory.

 

Wenz, John. “Enceladus’ Sea Floor has Hydrothermal Vents like ours.” Astronomy Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing Co, 13 Apr. 2017. Web. <http://astronomy.com/news/2017/04/enceladus-sea-floor-has-hydrothermal-vents>.

 

Weiss, Madeline C., and Filipa L. Sousa. “The Physiology and Habitat of the Last Universal Common Ancestor.” Nature Microbiology (2016): n. pag. Web.

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