Conditions for life may exist on moon of Saturn

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"We now know that Enceladus has nearly all of the ingredients you would need to support life as we know it on Earth", she continued.

On Thursday, NASA announced Saturn's moon Enceladus was found to have giant plumes containing hydrogen molecules that could be a potential source for microbial life. The gas could be a chemical energy source of life, scientists involved with the mission said.

This is the closest scientists have come to identifying a place having the ingredients for life, said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate.

NASA and others are quick to point out this latest discovery does not mean there's life on Enceladus (ehn-SEHL'-uh-duhs), but that there may be conditions favorable for life.

Most importantly, Cassini detected the presence of hydrogen gas in the moon's geyser-like plumes. This reaction involves combining hydrogen with carbon dioxide dissolved in water to produce methane.

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It is already known that three crucial ingredients are required for life to exist - water, right chemical matters which are the building blocks of life like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur and a source of energy for metabolism.

The latest findings suggest that Enceladus - a small, icy moon a billion miles farther from the sun than Earth - has almost all of these ingredients for habitability.

It turns out that Enceladus has every single of those ingredients necessary for the creation and maintenance and evolution of life.

As per reports, Cassini is not able to detect life, and has found no evidence that Enceladus is inhabited.

"Enceladus is high on the list in the solar system for showing habitable conditions", said lead author Hunter Waite.

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The Cassini spacecraft found hydrogen in the plume of gas and icy material spraying from Enceladus during its last, and deepest, dive through the plume on October 28, 2015.

Once scientists made this finding they used thermal imaging via the Hubble Telescope to study Europa.

It's going to take years for scientists to definitively determine whether there is life on either moon.

Cassini's findings reveal that the ice-covered Enceladus has pretty much all the elements required to support life forms.

The oceans exist a few miles below the surface of Enceladus, therefore researchers must draw conclusions from the vapors that rise into the atmosphere through the cracks in the ice. "We're finding new environments", said NASA's Planetary Science Division director, James Green. The future Europa Clipper mission, expected to launch in the 2020's, will head to Europa to gather more information.

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