May 18, 2024

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Researchers make a startling discovery on the distant moon

Researchers make a startling discovery on the distant moon

An essential building block for life has been found in one of the most unlikely places in the galaxy.

according to A recent study Published June 14 in the journal Nature, Enceladus – an icy moon orbiting Saturn – may have an ocean full of phosphorus, an element not detected on other planets before. The international team of researchers who led paper Use the Cassini Cosmic Dust Analyzer, or CDA, to study ice particles of Enceladus that have drifted into Saturn Luminous “E ring”.

Initially, the team’s geochemical modeling suggested that phosphates might be scarce, but the recent study revealed that phosphate concentrations could be “at least 100-fold higher in ocean waters forming the moon’s pole than in Earth’s oceans.” According to NASA, phosphorus is essential to our DNA and is often found in bones, cell membranes, and plankton. The presence of this element also indicates that Enceladus may not be the only icy world harboring the ability to create life.

“The high phosphate concentrations are a result of interactions between carbonate-rich liquid water and rocky minerals on the ocean floor on Enceladus, and may also occur on a number of other ocean worlds,” said planetary scientist and geochemist Christopher Glenn of the Southwest Research Institute. NASA. “This key ingredient could be abundant enough to support life in the vicinity of Enceladus; this is an amazing finding for astrobiology.”

For years, scientists have been baffled by this moon. in 2015CDA researchers discovered that Enceladus produced a plume of water and rock rich in silica, indicating that it came from a region of “hydrothermal activity”.

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Regardless, scientists are still trying to understand exactly what this new discovery means.

“The presence of the ingredients is necessary, but it may not be sufficient for an extraterrestrial environment to host life,” Glenn continued. Whether life originated in the vicinity of Enceladus remains an open question.