The NASA / ESA Cassini-Huygens Joint Mission has revealed some amazing things about Saturn and its satellite system. In the thirteen years she spent studying this system – before she plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn on September 15, 2017 – she presented the most compelling evidence to date of extraterrestrial life. And years later, scientists are still transferring the data he has collected.
For example, a team of German scientists recently examined the data collected by the orbiter Cassini around the southern polar region of Enceladus, where active activity regularly sends a stream of ice particles into space. What they found was evidence of organic signatures that could form the basis for amino acids ̵
The findings of the team appeared in a study published October 2 in Monthly Communications of the Royal Astronomical Society (and will be published in the November issue). The team included several geologists from the Free University of Berlin and the University of Heidelberg with the assistance of Sasha Kempf, the principal investigator at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Sciences (LASS).
Since 2018, scientists have known that Enceladus's powerful jets contain organic material, thanks to research conducted by many of the same team members. These jets are the result of hydrothermal openings located at the boundary of the main mantle inside the moon. Discharges from these openings are mixed with water from the inland ocean of the moon before they enter space in the form of water vapor and ice beans.
Enceladus plows can reach up to 500 km (310 miles) from the surface and are responsible for replenishing the Saturn E-ring. For the sake of their research, the team advised data collected by Cassini's Cassini's Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (19459006) and the Space Dust Analyzer (CDA). These instruments were responsible for the detection of organic molecules in the ice grains contained in the Enceladus layers.
After a broader compositional analysis of the CDA spectra, they made a deep discovery. The newly discovered molecules were found to be compounds containing nitrogen and oxygen. On Earth, such compounds are part of the chemical reactions that produce amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein molecules.
Moreover, on Earth, hydrothermal vents are what provide the energy needed to fuel these reactions. Combined with the fact that the most ancient fossilized life forms were found around hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean, scientists theorize that this is exactly where life on planet Earth first originated.
Scientists believe that on Enceladus, this activity alone can lead to strong reactions that can lead to life-building blocks. As Dr. Nosair Hawaii – a doctoral student at the Free University of Berlin and Heidelberg University and a leading author of the study, explained – in a recent NASA press statement:
"If the conditions are right, these molecules are like the deep ocean of Enceladus, which can be the same as the reaction we see here We do not yet know whether amino acids are needed for life outside the Earth, but the search for molecules that form amino acids is an important part of the puzzle. "
According to their findings, organic molecules should have initially dissolved in the inland ocean of Enceladus and then evaporated from the surface of the water. After rising to reach fractures in the lunar cortex, they condense and freeze, forming icy grains that would explode into space along with a growing plume. As soon as they became part of the Saturn E-ring, they were discovered by the Cassini CDA tool.
These recent results confirm the team's opening in 2018 that organic molecules periodically float to the surface from Enceladus's interior. Through this latest study, the team has taken a step further by showing how these molecules dissolved in the ocean can be linked to the formation of amino acids in the inner spaces of the moon.
Among other things, this is further evidence that Enceladus can maintain conditions conducive to occupancy in its interior. Between the confirmed existence of liquid water, chemical elements and hydrothermal activity, all the ingredients for life are. In the coming years, NASA and ESA plan to send a mission to Europe to look for evidence of life in its interior, such as Europa Clipper and Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Due to discoveries made by [19459005)] Cassini is currently considering numerous mission concepts that would explore Enceladus and Titan.Who knows? By the 2030s, humanity could have conclusive proof that life exists outside Earth not in one, but in two or more places!] Like Loading …