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The "elements of life" exist on Saturn's moon, Enceladus

According to the data analysis they performed, based on data from 2008 obtained by the spacecraft, evidence of the existence of liquid water was found. The spacecraft's plasma spectrometer with which the data was collected also found other types of negatively charged ions such as hydrocarbon

Saturn's moon Enceladus. Photo: Cassini spacecraft
Saturn's moon Enceladus. Photo: Cassini spacecraft

Some of the key building blocks for life are found on one of Saturn's moons, according to NASA and European Space Agency scientists on the Cassini-Huygens mission.

A team from Mollard Space Science Laboratories working on the Cassini-Huygens mission found negatively charged water ions in the ice shell of Enceladus.

According to the data analysis they performed, based on data from 2008 obtained by the spacecraft, evidence of the existence of liquid water was found. The spacecraft's plasma spectrometer with which the information was collected also found other types of negatively charged ions such as hydrocarbon.

Professor Andrew Coates, one of the authors of the paper, talks about the discovery, "While it is not a surprise to find water there, these short-lived ions are supporting evidence, for water that is below the surface of the earth, and where you can find water, carbon and energy, some of the main ingredients for creating life are found Name."

"What surprised us was looking at the mass of ions. There were several peaks in the spectrum, and when we analyzed them, we saw the effect of the water molecules crowding together one after the other."

Enceladus joins the list of planets in the solar system, where negatively charged ions are found, such as DHA, Titan and comets. Negative ions of oxygen were discovered in the mantle of the ionosphere of the Earth, at the beginning of the space age. On the Earth's surface, negative water ions are found in places where liquid water is in motion, for example in waterfalls or crashing ocean waves.

The plasma spectrometer measures the density, flow velocity, and temperature of the ions and electrons entering the device. After the discovery of the ice shell on Enceladus, the instrument also captured and analyzed samples of material from the jets.

During its mission, Cassini-Huygens discovered a plume containing water vapor and ice particles above Enceladus. Since then, scientists have found that sky in all accretion states dominates Saturn's magnetic environment and forms its giant ring.

On Titan, the instrument detected huge amounts of negatively charged hydrocarbons with a mass 13,800 times greater than hydrogen. Dr. Quest and his colleagues believe that large amounts of ions are the source of the smoke-like haze that obscures most of the ground when looking at Titan.

The new findings add to astronomers' growing knowledge of the chemical mantle composition of the atmospheres of Enceladus and Titan, and allow new understandings regarding the environment beyond the Earth where a prebiotic or life-supporting substrate may develop.

Professor Keith Masson, Principal Investigator from STFC says "The measurements of the water ions in the ice sheet of Enceladus are extremely exciting and provide us with future hope for finding water and perhaps even life on this distant icy moon".

for a press release

More on the subject on the science website"

19 תגובות

  1. It is worth investing the effort and money in searching for life that definitely exists in the Earth, in places that have not yet been explored and in researching species that may become extinct before we know anything about them.

  2. I do agree, the translation is appropriate, but in the press it is customary to state this and not to write the name of the translator as if he were the writer, see for example when "Haaretz" publishes an article by "The New York Times" and many other examples

  3. You should read here on the plasma spectrometer (CAPS) installed on the Cassini Huygens.
    From the description of the spectrometer it is possible to understand that these are charged water molecules = water ions (as opposed to mail ions) that were there to begin with.
    It seems to me that this was also the intention in response 11 and this extension was written to clarify that ionization was apparently not part of the test.

  4. Since this is a plasma (mass?) spectrometer, I assume that the samples were first ionized (turned into ions) and then tested.
    In any case, if there are ions of a molecule, it means that the neutral (non-ionic) molecule is also present.
    (an ion is simply an atom, it is a positively or negatively charged molecule)

  5. white blood,

    It seems to me that the question of how life was created on Earth is still a mystery.

  6. If we start from the assumption that the beginning of life on Earth was caused by comets, it is very logical to find similar ones in other places surrounded by comets, isn't it?

  7. I think Yael meant hydroxide ions (-OH)
    Negative carbon = carbon with an excess of an electron, also called a carbanion if I'm not mistaken.. 😛

  8. machine translation?

    Can you understand what negative water ions are? And what is meant by carbon negative?

    These concepts sound to me like a jumble of terms from the field of chemistry that don't exactly connect with each other...

  9. I think there is life in the solar system outside of Earth. And we must discover them.
    But at the rate that spacecraft are being sent to these places it will take hundreds of years before we find out anything.
    We need to develop some kind of factory to create exploration tools. Of course it has to be spaceship sized. We could place these around an astronomical object we would like to study. He will create exploration tools from local materials. and send them to the object under investigation. So within a few years, we'll have hundreds of robotic probes looking for life. Some of them will be shut down, but the factory will make sure to create more.
    If there is such a technology, let send to space also a factory that will manufacture factories that will manufacture exploration tools. If such "reproductive" abilities we can define these factories as a new form of life, a technological creature that we have created... 🙂
    There is still a lot of work to do to make this idea a reality. But we are on our way. One day this will also be possible, maybe even much sooner than it seems now.
    Stars are waiting for us…

  10. Ghost,
    I of course mean extraterrestrial life, it's the holy grail of science at the moment.

  11. I am in my early thirties. I wonder if I will ever know that a sample of a planet or moon has reached Earth in my time. How many worlds would we shock if we had clean samples from all these watery places. You have to start on the moon, move to Mars and at the same time send samples of soil or deep water on distant moons, in order to return them to us for careful examination.

    Greetings friends,
    Ami Bachar

  12. I'm trying to understand the phrase 'to find life' and I don't understand if it means to find aliens
    Or the intention to find conditions that will allow life to exist as it exists on Earth.
    If you mean aliens, then there is a possibility that their species does not need conditions in order to exist
    As on Earth, meaning water and hydrocarbon and the whole parcel.
    Maybe they are even made of flying spaghetti.

  13. In addition to Europa and Titan, I think that a probe must also be sent to Enceladus to look for life in the ocean under the ice, there is no less chance of finding life there as in Europe.

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