ET out there? Alien-friendly conditions detected on Saturn's Moon Enceladus | Tech News

ET out there? Alien-friendly conditions detected on Saturn's Moon Enceladus

Scientists discover essential elements for life on sSaturn's moon Enceladus. They have found high concentrations of phosphorus, which is crucial for all living processes on Earth.

| Updated on: Jun 16 2023, 17:16 IST
Earth to witness a RARE PHENOMENON! Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn forming a straight line NOW
1/6 According to Subhendu Pattnaik, Deputy Director, Pathani Samanta Planetarium, Bhubaneswar, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will align in a straight line in the eastern sky for around one hour before the sunrise during this rare phenomenon. (Pixabay)
2/6 Speaking to ANI, Subhendu Pattnaik said, "During the last week of April 2022, a rare and unique planet alignment will occur, which is popularly known as 'planet parade'' Although there is no scientific definition for 'planet parade', it is being widely used in astronomy to denote an event that takes place when planets of the solar system line up in a row in the same area of the sky." (Pixabay)
3/6 He explained about three planet parades. The first occurs when planets line up on one side of the Sun as seen up above the plane of our solar system. This is the most common among all of them and can happen multiple times in a year. (Pixabay)
4/6 Pattnaik said, "Secondly, when some planets appear in a small sector of the sky at the same time regardless of their visibility conditions, from Earth's point of view we term the event also as a planet parade. A planet parade of this type last happened on April 18, 2002 and July 2020 when all planets of the Solar system that are visible to the naked eye lined up in a row in the evening sky.” (Pixabay)
5/6 The third type of planet parade is on rare occasions where there are favourable conditions for observation of all or some of the planets. "During the last week of April 2022, a rare and unique planet parade will take place when Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will line up in the eastern sky around one hour before sunrise. This will be a planet parade of the third kind as described above. The last such parade of these planets occurred in 947 AD around 1,000 years ago," Pattnaik said. (AFP)
6/6 He further explained to ANI that, "One hour before sunrise on April 26 and 27, the moon along with four planets will be visible within 30 degrees from the eastern horizon in a near-perfect straight line. If the conditions are right, one can see Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn in a line without the need for binoculars or telescopes. On April 30, the brightest planets - Venus and Jupiter - can be seen very close together. Venus will be 0.2 degrees south of Jupiter.” (NASA)
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Caption: Saturn's moon Enceladus: A testament to cosmic forces shaping a tiny world. (NASA)

Scientists studying data from the Cassini spacecraft, a probe sent by the US space agency NASA, have made an important discovery on one of Saturn's icy moons. They have found high concentrations of phosphorus, which is crucial for all living processes on Earth.

This phosphorus was detected in ice crystals below the surface of Enceladus, Saturn's moon that has an ocean beneath its icy exterior.

Finding phosphorus is a significant breakthrough for the possibility of alien life on this moon. Researchers had already found six other chemical elements necessary for all living things: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulphur. The missing piece was phosphorus, and now they have found it.

The Cassini spacecraft was the first to orbit Saturn and collected data during its mission from 2004 to 2017. A team of international scientists led by Germany analysed the data, which spanned over a decade, and published their findings in the journal Nature. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, which built the Cassini probe, also made an announcement about the discovery.

Professor Frank Postberg from the Free University of Berlin, who led the research team analysing the data, explained that it took a long time to make this discovery. The data had been available on NASA's servers for 15 years, but due to its vast quantities, it was challenging to analyse while the mission was ongoing.

After receiving funding from the European Research Council, the team conducted a more extensive analysis of the data. They found nine ice grains with a significant signature of phosphorus after three years of research.

Mikhail Zolotov, a professor of planetary geochemistry at Arizona State University, emphasised the importance of this discovery. Phosphorus compounds are crucial for biological productivity on Earth, and their presence increases the potential for life on other ice-covered planets in the outer Solar System.

However, gathering evidence from other moons with oceans will take almost a decade. The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE), a mission by the European Space Agency, will explore Jupiter's icy moons Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede over the course of eight years. Additionally, NASA plans to launch the Europa Clipper in October next year, with an expected arrival at Jupiter's moon system in 2030.

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First Published Date: 16 Jun, 15:40 IST