Saturday, November 2, 2013

Searching for Life Beyond Earth: Could Life Exist on Enceladus?

In order to ask a question such as this, and ultimately answer it, one needs to first understand what life is, and then analyze the degree to which a celestial body is capable of sustaining this life. And what are the requirements for life as we know it? In the most basic sense: water, an atmosphere, and a source of energy. The interesting bit here is that Enceladus only fits into two of these categories (it has water and an atmosphere). However, this does not necessarily mean that life cannot survive. After all, the lifeforms that exist in the deepest parts of our ocean are a prime example of living beings thriving in unexpected places. And it seems that similar oceans flow under the icy covering of Enceladus.

Enceladus is one of Saturn’s small moons (it’s about the size of Wyoming). Interestingly, it is also one of the brightest objects in our Solar System. This is a world that has a temperature of -201 degrees Celsius (-329 Fahrenheit). Meaning, the moon is completely frozen over. Could life exist on this frozen moon? Apparently, the answer is yes (of course, scientists don’t expect this life to be a species of gigantic super aliens that want to enslave humanity…just bacteria).

Just how likely is life on this distant world? Find out at:

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