Whereas the potential of life on Mars has captivated the minds of Earth, it seems that Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, may additionally boast its personal lifeforms. A brand new examine, printed within the journal, Nature, means that the icy moon could have ideally suited circumstances for single-celled microorganisms generally known as archaeans, sometimes present in a number of the most excessive environments on Earth.
In accordance with the researchers, a methanogenic archaean known as Methanonthermococcus okinawensis was in a position to thrive in a simulated setting that mimicked circumstances to those who are believed to exist on Enceladus.
On our planet, such a archaean is discovered at extremely popular temperatures close to deep-sea hydrothermal vents. The microorganisms can convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen fuel into methane.
Traces of methane have been beforehand detected in vapor emanating from cracks in Enceladus’ floor.
“We conclude that a number of the CH4 (methane) detected within the plume of Enceladus would possibly, in precept, be produced by methanogens,” the researchers wrote.
Examine researcher, Ruth- Sophie Taubner, from the College of Vienna, and her group, uncovered the methanogen, M. okinawensis, to an setting just like the hydrothermal vents on Enceladus’ seafloor. The researchers discovered that the microbes have been in a position to develop effectively and produce methane.
If alien life have been to exist on Saturn’s moon, then it could probably share the identical traits because the M. okinawensis methanogen. It may additionally clarify the presence of methane on Enceladus.
Taubner and her colleagues additionally modeled the water-rock formation that may happen within the moon’s inside and located that these reactions can produce massive quantities of molecular hydrogen. Because of this Enceladus can maintain methanogenic organisms corresponding to M. okinawensis.
Nonetheless, Simon Rittmann, of the College of Vienna and co-author of the paper, mentioned that the most recent outcomes ought to be taken with a grain of salt as the info obtained was purely on laboratory examine.
Picture Supply: NASA.gov