Scientists Discovered New Organic Compounds on Enceladus - Saturn's Moon
NASA scientists have discovered the basic organic ingredients necessary for the existence of life in the water found in the ice plumes of Saturn's moon Enceladus.
Researchers have analyzed the chemical composition of seawater and ice, which are regularly discharged from the moon’s ice crust through cracks. Samples were taken with a Cassini interplanetary probe. Planetologists have discovered solutes containing nitrogen and oxygen atoms that play a key role in the formation of amino acids (proteins are made up of them). These compounds can enter into deep-sea chemical reactions, providing "building material" for living organisms.
According to scientists, processes similar to those on Earth may occur in the depths of Enceladus. Sea water is mixed with magma, leading to hydro-thermal springs with temperatures reaching 370 degrees Celsius. Under these conditions, organic compounds are converted to amino acids, and the mineral components allow living organisms to develop and multiply without the help of sunlight.
“We cannot say for sure that the origin of these molecules in living organisms, nor can we say that that life exists on Enceladus. Instead, we proposed that these molecules originated from hydrothermal vents inside Enceladus. Such a hydrothermal system also exists in the Earth’s ocean where microbial life exists. Therefore, the origins of these molecules are undecided but they have astrobiological potential.”, Astrobiologist Dr Nozair Khawaja said.
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