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A Saturn moon Enceladus may host life (Relevant for GS Prelims and GS Mains Paper III)

Hydrogen is a potential food source
Could icy moons like Saturn’s Enceladus in the outer solar system be home to microbes or other forms of alien life.

About Enceladus
Plumes of gas erupting out of Enceladus — a small moon with an ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust — contain hydrogen. Scientists infer that there are hydrothermal chemical reactions similar to those that occur at hot fissures at the ocean bottoms on the earth.

Why is the possibility of life predicted?
On the earth at least, hydrothermal vents thrive with microbial life, offering up the potential that icy moons far away from Earth could be habitable.

Who made the discovery?
This is the latest discovery by Cassini, a spacecraft that is heading into its final months after 13 years of exploring Saturn, its moons and rings.

On April 22, Cassini begins a journey that will take it between the planet and its rings for 22 orbits before its mission finally ends with a crash into Saturn’s atmosphere in September.

(Adapted from The Hindu)



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