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Scientists Reveal What It Will Take to Discover Alien Life on Saturn’s Moons

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If alien life is to be found anywhere in our solar system, scientists believe the existence of water is paramount for such existence. One place where water has been found is on Enceladus, a distant moon of Saturn. It has been thought researchers would have to land on the moon for further research but now, a new study suggests that’s simply not the case. According to a group of researchers at the University of Arizona, a team should be able to find out whether or not microbial life exists on the moon’s surface simply by making flybys with remote spacecraft…a substantial amount of times.

In fact, the study says researchers would have to fly by the moon, one of Saturn’s 38, at least 100 times to capture the necessary data that would determine if microbial life did, in fact, live on the moon.

“Clearly, sending a robot crawling through ice cracks and deep-diving down to the seafloor would not be easy,” Régis Ferrière, senior author for the study, said in a statement accompanying the study. “By simulating the data that a more prepared and advanced orbiting spacecraft would gather from just the plumes alone, our team has now shown that this approach would be enough to confidently determine whether or not there is life within Enceladus’ ocean without actually having to probe the depths of the moon. This is a thrilling perspective.” 

Enceladus is located some 800 million miles from Earth and researchers are certain it’s icy surface is just the top level of a massive moon-wide ocean. In short, the study believes the microbial life may be residing in the moon’s geysers because of the warmth.

“Considering that according to the calculations, any life present on Enceladus would be extremely sparse, there still is a good chance that we’ll never find enough organic molecules in the plumes to unambiguously conclude that it is there,” Ferrière added. “So, rather than focusing on the question of how much is enough to prove that life is there, we asked, ‘What is the maximum amount of organic material that could be present in the absence of life?’” 

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