During a routine survey of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, the Cassini-Huygens probe found traces of atmospheric methane in it. Scientists suggest that this indicates the possible existence of life.
The Cassini-Huygens probe has discovered that methane-rich salty plumes are erupting from the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. As you know, it is methane that is considered one of the main signs of the existence of life on other planets. It is produced in large quantities by bacteria, this gas is known as a by-product of their vital activity. That is why scientists have suggested that there may be life on Enceladus.
In addition, most of Enceladus is covered by a vast ocean that is hidden under a layer of ice. Scientists suggest that bacteria can live in the bottom areas of this ocean, which produce methane. However, the reason for the appearance of gas may be different.
For example, methane can be formed by the chemical decomposition of primary organic matter that may be present in the core of Enceladus and which can be partially converted to dihydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide by a hydrothermal process.
Scientists have performed mathematical calculations to see if bacteria like Earth’s methanogens can produce enough methane to create satellite plumes. After quantitative research methods, scientists came to the conclusion that the vital activity of bacteria is not enough for this. The researchers suggest that either methane was produced as a result of geochemical processes, or the bacteria on Enceladus are not similar to those known to science and “alternative abiotic mechanisms” are possible on the moon of Saturn.