A team of researchers has tracked down essential ingredients for life in an ocean which is located on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons. An analysis has released that organic compounds are present in the plumes of water which are released into space by the ocean buried under the icy crust of the planet.
The compounds, which also contain nitrogen and oxygen, are essential for the development of amino acids. Amino acids are complex molecules that are essential for the formation of proteins, and without proteins, life would not exist on Earth.
In the past, it was thought that the ocean found below the surface of the planet could contain some of the ingredients which are needed for life. Past studies have observed the existence of organic molecules on the icy moon, but the latest discovery proves that they are present in the water.
This is a great discovery since it means that within the lower areas of the ocean, chemical reactions could lead to the appearance of amino acids. The reactive building blocks are present in abundance, which is a great motive to learn more about the habitability of the moon.
Jets of ocean water and ice are released constantly into space as they find their way through the warm cracks which are present in the crack of the moon. The researchers who elaborated the study analyzed data that focused on the chemical composition of the plumes and discovered a selection of chemical compounds.
The water carries the compounds from the ocean. They evaporate along with the surface water, condense and freeze, becoming a part of the icy crust. Data about the plumes were collected by the Cassini spacecraft as it flew by the moon.
Deep within the inner areas of the planet seawater and magma mix and that to travel towards the surface, forming hydrothermal vents that release hot water. During this time, chemical reactions take place, encouraging the formation of amino acids.
A study has been published in a scientific journal.