NASA has revealed that Saturn's moon Enceladus is sending vast plumes of water that contain hydrogen out into space, confirming that it is in fact able to support life.
USA space agency NASA published the findings obtained by the Cassini spacecraft and the Hubble Space Telescope, indicating that conditions in which life may develop have been discovered on Saturn's moon Enceladus.
Enceladus now appears likely to have all three of the ingredients scientists think life needs: liquid water, a source of energy such as sunlight or chemical energy, and the right chemical ingredients like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
NASA stresses the findings, that were announced in the journal Science, do not mean that there is life on either moon, but that there may be favourable conditions to harbour life.
Scientists observed similar plumes on Jupiter's moon Europa.
NASA scientists have found more evidence that Saturn's icy moon Enceladus could support life: the presence of hydrogen molecules in huge geysers of water shooting up from the surface.
The consequent chemical reaction known as methanogenesis, which creates methane as a byproduct, is "at the root of the tree of life" on our planet and could have been crucial to the origin of life on Earth. "It would be like a candy store for microbes", said Hunter Waite, lead author of the Cassini study, in the press release.
WASHINGTON-NASA has announced that there may be proof of life outside of earth. Analysis of data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft indicates that the hydrogen is best explained by chemical reactions between the moon's rocky core and warm water from its subsurface ocean.
Enceladus is quite small, makes it about 15 percent as large as Earth's moon. "These results demonstrate the interconnected nature of NASA's science missions that are getting us closer to answering whether we are indeed alone or not".
It will dive toward the planet and burn up in September, at the end of its mission.
NASA officials said Cassini detected the hydrogen during one of its final dives through a plume of material spraying from Enceladus in October 2015. Molecular hydrogen in the plumes could serve as a marker for hydrothermal processes, which could provide the chemical energy necessary to support life. They concluded that the same kind of "Marsquakes" could also produce hydrogen on Mars, removing a major barrier to life.
"Most of us would be excited with any life, and certainly when we're talking about the sources of energy, this is to feed the base of a food web".
Cassini has no instruments that can detect life, so it will be up to future robotic visitors to seek out possible life on Enceladus, the scientists said.
The Europa Clipper is a NASA robotic probe meant to launch sometime in the early 2020s.