Could Methane-Spewing Microbes Be Living in the Depths of a Subsurface Ocean on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus? | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Could Methane-Spewing Microbes Be Living in the Depths of a Subsurface Ocean on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus?

When NASA's Cassini spacecraft circled Saturn and its icy moons from 2004 to 2017, scientists learned one moon may not be a frozen, lifeless celestial object after all. Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth largest moon, is an active moon with an ocean laying underneath its crust and hydrothermal vents deep beneath its icy shell that spew water ice, hydrogen and methane—all the ingredients microscopic life forms love here on Earth.

Now, new research shows those plumes shooting from the Enceladus' surface contain high amounts of methane and may be a sign that the moon can potentially harbor life, according to a study published last month in Nature Astronomy. Researchers speculate the methane could be produced by something similar to Earthly methanogenic microbes that consume hydrogen and carbon and burp up methane near deep-sea vents on the ocean floor, reports Charlie Wood for Popular Science.

The plumes were first discovered in 2006 when the Cassini spacecraft spotted the geysers shooting water ice and other organic materials at high velocities hundreds of miles into space near the moon's south pole, reports Passant Rabie for Inverse. The geysers are thought to feed Saturn's E ring, the planet's second outermost ring.

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