Saturn, Cassini–Huygens, Jupiter Astronomers Discovered Strange Signs of Life on a Saturn moon
Moon saturn is one of the largest planets in our solar system and its also one of the most unique it has more moons than any other planet at a whopping, 82 discovered so far, and there may be even more moons found in the future. One of the primary goals of almost every space agency is to find life on planets outside of our own and so far it hasnt been an astounding success, but this recent discovery on a saturn moon might just change everything with so many moons to potentially study scientists. Didnt even know where, to start when it comes to saturn many of saturns moons dont even have names yet its largest moon titan gets by far the most attention out of all its moons and thus has received more research funding from various different space agencies. But what surprised everyone was that titan wasnt, the moon, where this incredible discovery was made. It was actually made on enceladus, saturns, sixth largest moon, for a bit of a background on enceladus its about 500 kilometers or 310 miles in diameter and is completely dwarfed by its larger brother titan, which is 10 times the size of enceladus. Still enceladus is quite unique as its covered with a clean layer of ice and its highly reflective, often considered the most reflective object in the solar system. Its believed that enceladus has a massive ocean, thats hidden underneath its frozen crust, but enough about the moons characteristics as its something else that has put this moon on the minds of so many astronomists.
In recent years, a team of scientists led by dr nozaire kawaja from the university of berlin, made a remarkable discovery about enceladus. They were studying and analyzing the information that they received from nasa back in 2018, when nasas cassini aircraft discovered complex, macromolecular organics. That might be vital to all life similar to here on earth. These complex, macromolecular organics have never been found on any other object in space before whether its a planet or a rock, the only other place theyre really found, is here on earth. Considering that enceladus is also a moon with a massive ocean similar to earth, it might mean that enceladus is actually one of the only places in space where life, even human life might thrive. The molecules found on enceladus are mostly found on amino acids, but these amino acids arent known to be what life on earth depends on, but dr kawaja says that even the discovery of such a thing might be something groundbreaking. He said if the conditions are right, these molecules coming from the deep ocean of enceladus could be on the same reaction pathway as seen here on earth. We dont yet know if amino acids are needed for life beyond earth, but finding the molecules that form amino acids is an important piece of the puzzle. The discovery of these molecules was made because of the cracks in the ice sheet of enceladus that are made because of hydrothermal activity, which would then let out ice, grains and vapor that are deep within its ocean.
The molecule discovered within them was mostly made up of oxygen and nitrogen, and almost the exact same molecule is also found on earth and nowhere else. In fact, these molecules are even released in a similar way on earth through vents located on the ocean floor. The only difference is that we dont have an ice sheet that prevents these molecules from coming out, but if enceladus didnt have its ice sheet, we could potentially have another mini earth in our solar system. This discovery has led to a lot more focus on researching enceladus, specifically even over much larger saturn, moons and even entire planets. There are currently multiple research papers being prepared about enceladus and more discoveries are being made about this moon than ever before. If anything substantial comes out of these research papers, as well as any future exploration projects that are bound to happen by the likes of nasa, it may change our understanding of life beyond earth. Aside from finding current life were also always looking to find past life in places outside the earth and theres, probably no better place to look for right now other than on enceladus. As for what we can expect to find on enceladus and how long it will take, only time will tell, but things are looking bright for the people who are working day in and day out, researching this truly fascinating moon. But aside from just this one discovery made on one of saturns moons, the discovery has also brought the question of what other saturn moons are like.
We dont even know how many moons saturn exactly has let alone have any substantial information about each individual moon. We dont have clear pictures of many of the smaller and even bigger moons, and it all brings into question that what if there are even more signs of life on the moons we havent been discovering. That is clearly a possibility that we can take lightly. Although some of saturns moons dont even slightly resemble each other, the largest of these moons, as weve mentioned, is titan. Titan is massive for a moon, its the second largest natural satellite in our solar system and its even bigger than pluto its about 50 percent bigger than earths moon for comparison and the earth would look very different if titan were its moon instead and wed probably see A lot more tidal waves instead of friendly waves, much like enceladus titan, has its own similarities with the earth, its the only known object in our solar system and potentially the universe where there is evidence of surface liquid present titan is mostly made up of ice and Rock and its atmosphere is mostly made up of nitrogen. Sometimes the atmosphere of titan can turn orange due to organo nitrogen haze. Nasa has been researching titan and the potential for life on the moon. For a long time now, they announced the dragonfly mission last year, which will consist of a spacecraft actually reaching the moon and conducting various flybys, as well as collecting samples.
The dragonfly mission hopes to find and study prebiotic chemical processes that are common on both titan and earth, which means that there might soon be another saturn moon with a similar molecule as the earth. Dragonfly will launch in the mid 2020s and may reach titan as late as the mid 2030s, so we still have to wait a little before we get any information about titan, but its still, some very exciting news. Nasa wrote on their website. Titan is the analog to the very early earth and can provide clues to how life may have arisen on our planet. During its 2.7 year baseline mission, dragonfly will explore diverse environments from organic dunes to the floor of an impact crater where liquid water and complex organic materials key to life once existed together for possibly tens of thousands of years. Its instruments will study how far prebiotic chemistry may have progressed. They also will investigate the moons atmospheric and surface properties and its subsurface ocean and liquid reservoirs. Additionally, instruments will search for chemical evidence of past or extant life. This statement only gives us more hope that it will indeed be one of saturns moons, where life might actually be found, whether existing or previous, the fact that even nasa a space organization that normally stays quiet when it comes to speculation on extraterrestrial life is actually making An observation on titans similarities to earth is a big statement in and of itself and its now a race between dr kawaja trying to figure out whether he can link amino acids to life on earth and nasa trying to reach titan, collect samples and studying them.
As soon as possible and for us observers, the competition is simply exciting whether or not any life will actually be found on either of these two moons. One thing is clear: we have never known so much about our solar system in the past, and this is only just the beginning. Even if we dont find life on these moons, we will go home with priceless research that wouldnt have even been imaginable just 20 years ago. Space research is advancing at an extremely rapid pace. Considering the first spacecraft was launched only 64 years ago by the soviet union. Its a wonder what the next 64 years have in store for us in terms of space travel.