Life on Enceladus: what is it?

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2017-04-21 10:00:08

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Life on Enceladus: what is it? Source:

After the announcement made by the aerospace Agency NASA last week, Saturn's icy moon Enceladus is on everyone's lips. According to the Agency, under-ice ocean of Enceladus discovered molecular hydrogen, which may be an indicator that the satellite can have an environment suitable for habitation of extraterrestrial life. Despite his cool outer demeanour, the existing on Enceladus ocean might be warm, especially in the deep part, the researchers say. We are talking about temperatures up to 90 degrees Celsius. In General, if you astrobiologist or just a great enthusiast of space exploration, then this news should definitely inspire you. Because, well, you know, aliens!

The Detection of hydrogen on the moon is actually the great news, however, professional astronomers and Amateur astronomers long before this suspected that Enceladus may Harbor life. In 2015, the spacecraft NASA Cassini flew through the geysers of Enceladus and collected samples of the organic components. So among 62 zaturenska satellites Enceladus suddenly became the most interesting. But how else? The presence of organic molecules and water means only one thing: the Enceladus fit (or at least was once qualified) for life.

The Question of today's article is that it can live in the ocean that ice world? Of course, the answer to this question is no one, but isn't it interesting to at least speculate on this topic?

"I think that within the Solar system, if we do something and find [alive], then it will be some types of microorganisms. If we find the remains of something extinct, it is also likely to be some species of microorganisms", — says Rocco Menichelli, astrobiologist from NASA.

It is Unlikely, of course, under the icy crust of Enceladus splashing narwhals (well and suddenly?), since the world is still not as fabulous as it might seem at first glance. The surface of Enceladus reflects a lot of heat, so the temperature here is always very low and often reaches -201 degrees Celsius. Of course, this does not exclude the possibility of the existence on it of life, but complex organisms in these conditions are unlikely to be able to survive.

"the Key issue here is how living organisms will survive in here? Life must have a source of energy, and the ability to reproduce itself. That Enceladus may be the source of energy? The icy crust of the satellite is very thick, so the sunlight for microorganisms (if they are there) as a source of energy is not good," — says, Manically.

If Enceladus has at least some kind of life, then most likely it's centered around geothermal sources, which can also be an ideal habitat, at least here on Earth. A recent study in which was discovered very ancient fossils of microorganisms, showed that the origin of life on Earth such geothermal sources have been of crucial importance. Here shall dwell the most diverse fauna, ranging from tube worms and ending with the various types of shrimp. They all live in places where there is no access to sunlight. How do they survive? All thanks to chemosynthesis – process, according to the publication, Ocean Portal by which "micro-organisms at the lower levels of the food chain, is able to obtain the required chemicals directly from geothermal sources, converting them into usable energy and food."

It is possible that on Enceladus lacks the necessary components that would appear complex living organisms, but, according to new research, there is a high probability that the satellite can still support simple organisms. And who knows, maybe these organisms have found a way to use some other available on the satellite energy source and to evolve accordingly. Obviously those narwhals. Joke.

There is also the possibility that the germs of Enceladus used for survival bioluminescence. Have this ability to some types of terrestrial deep-sea and terrestrial organisms. It allows you to convert energy in the form of light. For organisms that may have to live at a depth of several kilometers under the crust of Encelade, this may seem a very suitable alternative.

Astronomers have discovered that Enceladus has all the necessary basic ingredients for the origin of life, so the most obvious future solution is to send to the satellite lander, and even better – a mobile Autonomous research stations, as «Curiosity» on Mars. NASA already being discussed for such missions. Among them are, for example, Enceladus Life Finder (ELF). In the words of Monicelli, this project will allow us to study satellites at once from different sides and, ultimately, to determine whether there is life on Enceladus. Even if in the form of microorganisms.

"we need an integrated approach rather than the pursuit of life for one or two biosignatures. That will be of little. We need to consider all the possibilities of the environment and find out how these biosignature there is manifested a", — explains Manically.

Maybe we will eventually not find a bioluminescent whale, hiding under the depths of water and ice of Enceladus, but it is likely to find something like our earth animals. These crumbs are known to survive almost anywhere.

"Tardigrades really are amazing creatures. The presence of similar life on Enceladus – this is not fiction. This is one of the possibilities. These crumbs, however, very tenacious,", — says, Manically.

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