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).The last two of these, phosphorus and sulphur, have not yet been found in Enceladus’s ocean – but scientists suspect them to be there because the rocky core of the moon is believed to be chemically similar to meteorites containing them.This now paves the way for further explorations to find life in our solar system.'Although we can't detect life, we've found that there's a food source there for it,' said Hunter Waite, lead author of the Cassini study.'It would be like a candy store for microbes.' The hydrogen, which shoots out of the moon in high-powered ice jets, is the final puzzle piece following the discovery of its liquid ocean and carbon dioxide.While they haven't found life itself on Enceladus, Glein says the geochemical data 'could allow for this possibility.' Mary Voytek, senior astrobiologist at Nasa Headquarters, said last night: 'This is a new frontier because this is the first time we have seen evidence of an alien food source in an ocean not on Earth.'We knew we had two of the key ingredients for life and now we have the third.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.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.
These organisms, still found on our planet within the darkest depths of our oceans, use hydrogen and carbon dioxide as fuel in a process known as 'methanogenesis.'‘What is intriguing about the data at Enceladus, with the hydrogen detection, is that we are now able to determine how much energy would be available from the methanogenesis reaction at Enceladus,' said Chris Glein, Cassini INMS team associate at Sw RI during the press conference.'We have made the first calorie count in an alien ocean.'This, the researcher explained, is a major step in assessing the moon's habitability.
The gravity from the planet pulls the moon out of shape, wherever it is closest, creating friction that heats the rock to 90C – enough to melt the ice.