Enceladus, a frozen moon around 800million miles from Earth, was one of the least likely candidates.But in 2005 the Cassini spacecraft was orbiting Saturn when it picked up plumes of vapour coming from the ‘tiger stripes’, or deep fissures, in the moon’s surface.While they haven't found life itself on Enceladus, Glein says the geochemical data 'could allow for this possibility.'After 13 years exploring Saturn, the craft dove into high-powered jets of water spewing from the moon’s surface, where it found hydrogen gas.The gas is the final piece of the puzzle following the discovery of water in an ocean under Enceladus’s surface.‘This is the closest we've come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment,’ said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington.‘These results demonstrate the interconnected nature of NASA's science missions that are getting us closer to answering whether we are indeed alone or not.’ Observations in 2005 by the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini mission revealed plumes of water vapour and ice spraying into space from the south pole of Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn, as illustrated above Cassini, which made the major breakthrough using its mass spectrometer, will have a fiery end to its time in space.After orbiting Saturn for 13 years, its ‘grand finale’ mission will end in September when it is diverted to crash into Saturn and burn up.Cassini, on its final mission before it runs out of fuel and is allowed to burn up in space, was sent diving deep into the jets.
This is the most exciting discovery in my eight-year career at Nasa.'The building blocks of life on Enceladus are water, which no form of life on Earth can exist without, an energy source and six elements – carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur.This established that, while Enceladus is freezing on its surface, underneath is a liquid ocean.Organisms, found on our planet in hot vents within the darkest depths of our oceans, use hydrogen and carbon dioxide as fuel in a process called 'methanogenesis.' Researchers have now discovered the building blocks for life exist on Enceladus as well Enceladus is Saturn's sixth largest moon, at 313 miles wide (504 kilometers).As a result, the researcher say there could be volatile species in these deep oceans.It means Enceladus may have the same single-celled organisms which began life on Earth, or more complex life still.