In search of extraterrestrial life, scientists are particularly interested in the search for new Earth-sized exoplanets and located in the habitable zone of its star. But our best chance of finding living organisms may well lie much closer to us, inside our solar system.
A liquid ocean below the surface of Enceladus
For several decades, certain moons of Jupiter and Saturn have attracted the attention of scientists and exobiologists due to the presence of a large crust of water ice on their surface. Enceladus, small moon of Saturn only 500 kilometers in diameter, it has been the subject of special attention since the passage of the Cassini probe in 2004. If the surface of this moon that orbits the gas giant within the outer ring appears completely frozen, many observations suggest the presence of water liquid. under this thick layer of ice. In fact, many geysers have been observed exploding on the surface, suggesting that this internal liquid ocean would be animated by convection currents due to the presence of important heat sources.
liquid water and a geological activity that produces heat intensely and continuously, nothing more is needed to raise the hopes of scientists about the potential presence of living organisms under the icy surface of Enceladus. These two criteria that allow the habitability of the small moon it has just been completed by a third. Through modeling, researchers have found that Enceladus’ hidden ocean would be relatively rich in phosphorous, a chemical element essential for the development of life. On Earth, phosphorus, in the form of phosphate, is actually an ingredient…
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