Saturn’s Moon Enceladus Leaking Water Vapor

For some time now, Mars has been suspected of once being home to life. Proof of this theory is still being hunted down, but in the meantime, researchers have moved on to the possibility that some planets’ moons, particularly Saturn’s moon Enceladus, may currently be home to living organism.

Discovered in 1789 by astronomer William Herschel, Enceladus is Saturn’s sixth largest moon. It gets its name from the Greek giant. Although it was discovered in 1789, no real research was done until the 1980s. Along with concluding that the moon has an atmosphere composed of water vapor, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and methane, scientist have been able to gather information about its composition, size, orbit and more.

Years ago, it was discovered that water vapor was shooting out of the icy surface of Enceladus. Photos recently taken by  NASA’s Cassini probe were analyzed by the Planetary Science Institute and have suggested that there is more water vapor escaping from the surface than previously estimated. The water vapor, which scientists are calling curtains or plumes, is leaking and extending to about 75 miles in length.

It has been found that Enceladus has what scientists believe are the key ingredients to life: organic material, liquid water and an energy source. Enceladus’s water vapor contains organic materials, scientists believe that there are liquid oceans trapped under the surface of the moon and there might be hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, which could be the source of energy. Enceladus may be too cold to support human life, but there if the strong belief that something lives there and the hope is to soon find out if this is true or not.

Europa and Ganymede, two of Jupiter’s moons, have also been examined for the possibility of life. Both have liquid oceans, but an energy source and organic materials are yet to be identified. To be sure that there is life on Enceladus would call for a trip to the icy moon and some serious research. For now, NASA is focused on finding life on Mars and Europa, so it may be years before life on Enceladus is confirmed.