NASA has discovered signs of extraterrestrial life in the plumes of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.
According to a study published in Nature Astronomy, NASA’s Cassini spacescraft found a large amount of methane – along with a relatively high concentration of dihydrogen and carbon dioxide molecules – on Enceladus, which cannot be explained by any known geochemical processes.
This led researchers to suggest the existence of Earth-like microbes that ‘eat’ the dihydrogen and produce methane.
Previous studies have shown that Enceladus is capable of supporting life. The Saturnian moon has a subsurface ocean that is covered by a layer of ice, which provides a warm climate for life to grow.
Additionally, researchers have drawn comparisons between the hydrothermal vents on Earth’s ocean floor and Enceladus’ plumes, where the moon’s ocean reacts with rocks to provide a source of chemical energy.
The researchers used mathematical models combining geochemistry and microbial ecology to evaluate Cassini’s methane data.
“They conclude that Cassini’s data are consistent either with microbial hydrothermal vent activity, or with processes that don’t involve life forms but are different from the ones known to occur on Earth,” explained Régis Ferrière, University of Arizona biologist and one of two lead authors of the study.
While the research doesn’t confirm that life exists on Enceladus, it does reveal that microbes are one possible explanation for the high amounts of methane. However, further research will be needed in order to determine whether there is, in fact, life on Saturn’s moon.
Back on Earth, the Pentagon has released its unclassified report on UFO sightings. Based on 144 reports of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), the document found “no clear indications that there is any non-terrestrial explanation” for the aircrafts, but also didn’t rule it out.