Wednesday, May 29

Ice moon Saturn Enceladus possesses life-sustaining ingredients 2023

Scientists found an ingredient that might support life on a distant moon.

Ice crystals from Saturn’s moon Enceladus’ subterranean ocean have high levels of phosphorous, an element found in all biological things.

Researchers believe Saturn’s moon might support life.

The Cassini spacecraft, which examined Saturn and its moons from 2004 to 2017, made the finding.

Before this finding, the same researchers found minerals and complex chemical molecules, including amino acids, in Enceladus’ ice grains.

Phosphorus, the least prevalent of six chemical elements essential to life—carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulphur—was lacking until today.

“It’s the first time this essential element has been discovered in an ocean beyond Earth,” said the study’s main author, Frank Postberg, a planetary scientist at the Free University in Berlin.

All life on Earth needs phosphorus for DNA, cell membranes, and energy-carrying molecules.

Cassini sailed over salt-rich ice grains thrown into space by geysers erupting from an ocean under the moon’s frozen south pole and detected phosphorus.

The spacecraft collected data while traveling through a jet of ice crystals and the material that feeds Saturn’s dim “E” ring with icy particles beyond its brighter major rings.

Enceladus is a leading candidate for habitable planets in our solar system, even for bacteria, thanks to Cassini’s inner ocean discovery.

It is the sixth biggest of Saturn’s 146 natural satellites and one-seventh the size of Earth’s moon.

Jupiter’s bigger moon Europa may possibly have an ocean of liquid water under its frozen surface.

Scientists underlined that phosphorus, complex chemical molecules, water, and other life-building ingredients only indicate that Enceladus is potentially livable, not that it is populated.

No extraterrestrial life has been found.

Glein said it’s unclear if life developed in Enceladus’ ocean.

It follows the discovery of a Tatooine-like planet.

An multinational team of astronomers found an unusual multi-planet system that resembles Luke Skywalker’s Tatooine.

The second multi-planet circumbinary system is BEBOP-1c.

This new system orbits two stars, unlike our solar system, which orbits the sun.

The planet resembles Tatooine, a desert planet in Star Wars that circles Tattoo I and Tattoo II.

The planet, named Binaries Escorted By Orbiting Planets after the project that identified it, has a 65-times Earth mass and a 215-day orbit.

BEBOP-1, also known as TOI-1338, is the second circumbinary system with several planets orbiting two stars, out of 12 known.

Dr. Rosemary Mardling, co-author of the University of Birmingham paper, said the discovery might assist scientists understand planet formation.

NASA’s TESS satellite observatory found a circumbinary planet dubbed TOI-1338b in 2020, but astronomers couldn’t determine its mass.

Researchers built two telescopes in Chile’s Atacama Desert to determine TOI-1338b’s mass but found BEBOP-1c instead.

They measured BEBOP-1c but not TOI-1338b.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, the telescopes tracking the planet’s orbit around its two parent stars were shut down for six months, forcing astronomers to wait until last year to witness the unrecorded part.

Researchers will then measure BEBOP-1c.

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