Saturn’s moon may host life: study

Source:AFP Published: 2018/2/28 16:43:39

Humanity may need look no further than our own Solar System in the search for alien life, researchers in Germany and Austria probing one of Saturn's moons said Tuesday.

The icy orb known as Enceladus may boast ideal living conditions for single-celled microorganisms known as archaeans found in some of the most extreme environments on Earth, they reported in the science journal Nature Communications.

A methanogenic (methane-producing) archaean called Methanothermococcus okinawensis thrived in laboratory conditions mimicking those thought to exist on Saturn's satellite, the team said.

On Earth, this type of archaean is found at very hot temperatures near deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and converts carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas into methane.

Traces of methane were previously detected in vapor emanating from cracks in Enceladus' surface.

They also calculated that sufficient hydrogen to support such microbes could be produced by geochemical processes in Enceladus' rocky core.


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