Tiny Saturn Moon ID'd As Good Candidate For Alien Life
SAN FRANCISCO, California — Saturn's tiny moon Enceladus may be one of the best candidates for extraterrestrial life in our solar system.
Scientists for the first time have gathered comprehensive evidence suggesting Enceladus may have all the necessary ingredients to harbor life in the ocean beneath its icy crust.
Particles in a large plume of water vapor emanating from the surface suggest the moon has an active ocean that circulates life-sustaining nutrients picked up from the rocky interior below.
"The plume is our smoking gun," said astrobiologist Christopher Parkinson of the University of Michigan. "It gives you a hint about what's going on inside."
Life could arise in these conditions, or it could arrive from elsewhere in the galaxy, Parkinson said Monday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
"If we sent a probe with the idea that there was microbial life on it that we were going to infect the place with, it would likely be a successful experiment," he said. "I'm not suggesting we do it, but it would be very cool."
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