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Scientists have now found all the elements necessary for life on Enceladus

Enceladus, the sixth largest of Saturn’s 146 moons, has a liquid ocean with a rocky bed beneath its bright, white, icy surface. Enceladus’ glaciers throw frozen grains of material into space, creating one of the countless rings that orbit Saturn.

Now, a team of researchers has discovered that these ice grains contain phosphate. They found the combination using data from Cassini, the joint NASA-Europa orbiter that has been studying Saturn, its rings and moons until 2017. This is the first time that phosphate has been found in an ocean beyond Earth. New discovery that on Wednesday Nature magazine published, raises the possibility that Enceladus is home to extraterrestrial life.

Frank Postberga planetary scientist at the Free University of Berlin and the principal investigator of the study, According to the New York Times He says: “We are looking for [فسفات] “We weren’t there and we didn’t expect it.” He describes the discovery of phosphates (chemicals containing the element phosphorus) as an exciting moment.

With the discovery of phosphorus in the ocean world around Saturn, scientists say they have now found all the elements we know are essential for life. Phosphorus is a key element in human bones and teeth, and according to scientists, it is the rarest essential biological element in the universe. Planetary researchers previously discovered five other key elements on Enceladus: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur, the last of which has been tentatively identified.

Previous research has shown that phosphorus must be scarce in extraterrestrial oceanic worlds, and this scarcity has probably prevented the formation of life in other parts of the solar system or galaxy. But Dr. Postberg says that in the case of Enceladus, researchers found exactly the opposite of this issue; That is, the ice sea of ​​this moon, instead of lacking phosphate, is enriched with this compound almost a thousand times or more compared to the oceans of the earth.

Dr. Postberg and his colleagues conducted an in-depth study of 345 ice grains that Cassini studied while passing through Saturn’s E ring, and concluded that phosphates are present. This ring is formed by the material emitted from Enceladus. They measured the composition of the dust masses arising from the collisions of these grains with the metal plate of one of the instruments installed on the spacecraft called “Cosmic Dust Analyzer” and found that the molecular mass of nine ice particles indicates the presence of phosphate.


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