Under the ice of Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, a clue has been found that scientists believe is compatible with the presence of alien life forms
The discovery of new worlds capable of harboring life has always fascinated mankind and since the dawn of the search for extraterrestrials, the "special watchers" have been the planets closest to Earth, those of the Solar System. Mars was the first to be seen as the possible home of the "Martians", but the eyes have often been pointed also to Venus and Saturn. A new discovery concerns precisely the planet with rings that, according to a team of scholars, could have a moon capable of hosting life.
Saturn's moon could host life: the reason
It is called Enceladus the moon of Saturn that could host life. There is a key clue that has allowed experts to formulate this revolutionary hypothesis and is the presence of methane.
This gas, in fact, is "compatible" with a production due to life forms and considering that under the icy surface of Enceladus hides an ocean, everything suggests life forms that live underwater.
The international study that formulated the new hypothesis is led by the University of Paris Sciences et Lettres (Psl) and has been published in the journal Nature Astronomy. It is based on data obtained by the Cassini probe during its long mission, which ended in 2017.
An ocean full of life under the ice of Enceladus: the hypothesis
Recent research had already shown that under the icy blanket that surrounds Enceladus hides a vast ocean of water "warmed" by the geological activity of the moon. There are also hydrothermal vents similar to those present in our oceans and that may have been some of the first cradles of life on Earth.
For the moment, however, it is impossible to go directly under the ice of Enceladus but you can still get valuable information by analyzing the vapors released by geysers that dot the icy surface of the moon and pour into the atmosphere gases produced directly from the oceans.
Researchers have tried to understand what mechanisms could explain the production of methane detected in the jets. A valuable help came from the data of Cassini, the probe jointly realized by Nasa, European Space Agency (Esa) and Italian Space Agency (Asi).
The research showed that no known geological mechanism would be able to justify such an amount of methane, which could instead be compatible with a production of biological origin and therefore opens the possibility of a presence of aliens.
Scientists are keen to point out that this is not evidence of the existence of life forms, rather clues of "compatibility" with these hypotheses and further confirmation that the hydrothermal vents of Enceladus are environments of the highest interest for research on extraterrestrial life.