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NASA reveals discoveries on 'ocean worlds' in our solar system!


Hydrogen is an excellent source of chemical energy that supports life near deep sea hydrothermal vents on Earth.

The moon has captured the imagination of astronomers ever since NASA's Cassini spacecraft delivered images showing massive plumes of vapour erupting from cracks on its icy surface.

An illustration of NASA's Cassini spacecraft flying through the water plumes of Enceladus, an icy moon that orbits Saturn.

The findings were announced Thursday in the journal Science.

Original Story: Today at 2 p.m. ET, NASA will hold a news conference announcing "new results about ocean worlds in our solar system", and more tantalizingly, "the broader search for life beyond Earth".

Cassini first discovered evidence of a vast ocean on Enceladus by spotting plumes of water vapor jutting out of Enceladus' surface. "Now, you see the chemical energy source that microbes could use".

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NASA researchers said there was no evidence as of yet that organisms existed on Enceladus.

According to the associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, this is the closest humanity has come so far to identify a place with some of the ingredients required to support life.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft detected the presence of molecular hydrogen in water plumes erupting from Saturn's icy moon Enceladus, the US space agency announced Thursday, suggesting that the distant world has nearly all the conditions necessary for life.

Enceladus is the sixth largest moon of Saturn.

NASA's Enceladus announcement is exciting, because it could prove helpful to a new mission, targeting launch in the 2020s, that will visit another ocean world, Jupiter's moon, Europa.

The plumes have led scientists to infer that hydrothermal chemical reactions between the moon s rocky core and its ocean - located under the ice - are likely occurring on Enceladus. "With this research, we're making a big step forward towards answering the question: is there life out there?"

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The researchers discovered that 98 percent of the gas content present in its plume is water, just one percent of it is hydrogen and the remaining one percent comprises of molecules of carbon dioxide, ammonia and methane.

One of Saturn's small, white moons has the flawless conditions for life in its icy crust-covered ocean.

"Most of us would be excited with any life", said Mary Voytek, an astrobiology senior scientist for NASA.

Through the study what surfaced up is that the moon has hydrogen for ecosystems.

Cassini wasn't created to detect signs of life in the Enceladus plume - indeed, scientists didn't know the plume existed until after the spacecraft arrived at Saturn. Plus, Hubble spies a plume on Europa for the second time.

Life on Saturn? Maybe not, but one of its moons, Enceladus, seems to be potentially habitable.

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