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Space Earth NASA

Microbes Found in Earth's Deep Ocean Might Grow on Saturn's Moon Enceladus (theverge.com) 69

Life as we know it needs three things: energy, water and chemistry. Saturn's icy moon Enceladus has them all, as NASA spacecraft Cassini confirmed in the final years of its mission to that planet. From a report: Scientists have successfully cultivated a few of these tiny organisms in the lab under the same conditions that are thought to exist on the distant moon, opening up the possibility that life might be lurking under the world's surface. Enceladus is one of the most intriguing places in the Solar System since it has many crucial ingredients needed for life to thrive. For one, it has lots of water. NASA's Cassini spacecraft -- which explored the Saturn system from 2004 to 2017 -- found that plumes of gas and particles erupt from the south pole of Enceladus, and these geysers stem from a global liquid water ocean underneath the moon's crust. Scientists think that there may be hot vents in this ocean, too -- cracks in the sea floor where heated rock mingles with the frigid waters. This mixing of hot and cold material seems to be creating a soup of chemical compounds that might support life.
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Microbes Found in Earth's Deep Ocean Might Grow on Saturn's Moon Enceladus

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  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday February 27, 2018 @04:24PM (#56196247)

    "All these worlds are yours, except Europa."

    And Enceladus, it seems....

  • I may be coming in from left field with this, but maybe it is time to use that phrase Life as we know it

  • Maybe it is time we start using the phrase Life as we know it

  • by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Tuesday February 27, 2018 @04:36PM (#56196343)
    Life as we know it need one thing: a starting point of Earth. Everything else remains conjecture.
    • Life as we know it need one thing: a starting point of Earth.

      As we can't be sure of the starting point of life on Earth, that's a rather large nope.

  • by fredrated ( 639554 ) on Tuesday February 27, 2018 @04:37PM (#56196347) Journal

    I wonder if it's tasty.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have been saying for years that ANY planet with a large body of liquid water is pretty much guaranteed to have life. There is simply too much varied, insane, completely-cut-off-from-the-sun life in our oceans that it's simply ridiculous to believe there isn't something similar on another planet or large moon.

    And the discovery of even a single non-terrestrial microbe swimming around completely alone on another planet/moon in the solar system is definitive proof that there is life elsewhere in the universe

  • It might sound like an ad, but I guess it's worth mentioning this to the particular audience: look at the data. An interesting starting point for this could be a book where you learn to interpret and analyse stuff on your own: https://bigmachine.io/products... [bigmachine.io] .
  • ...
    are thought to
    the possibility that
    might be
    Scientists think that
    there may be
    l seems to be
    might support

    Just quoting.
  • by Humbubba ( 2443838 ) on Tuesday February 27, 2018 @07:01PM (#56197133)
    Getting some of Earth's microbes living on Enceladus would be exciting, but not surprising. Earthworms can grow in simulated Martian soil, and 4.5 billion years old meteorites have been found that have the building blocks of life. All this suggests life is at least possible elsewhere in the solar system.

    What is really surprising is bacteria has been found growing in space, on the outside of the International Space Station. Is it possible that our exploration of space could inadvertently be leaving a trail of life in its entirety, or at least highly developed constituent parts? If it doesn't yet exist, Earth might become the origin of extraterrestrial life.

    https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/11/mars-soil-earthworm-agriculture-science-spd/ [nationalgeographic.com]

    http://www.iflscience.com/space/cosmonauts-find-live-bacteria-on-the-hull-of-the-iss/ [iflscience.com]

    https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/12/1219_TVsugarmeteors.html [nationalgeographic.com]

    • Getting some of Earth's microbes living on Enceladus would be exciting, but not surprising.

      Wow! Invasive species . . . Solar System Enterprise Edition!

      Yes, we should definitely take a few test tubes of some Earth microbes when we go there, and plant them. Then we can return in a few thousand years, and see how they are doing . . .

      . . . or . . . maybe they will have evolved in that time, and they will come looking to see how we are doing . . . and how we taste.

      Maybe something sent there by us will have some unintentional "stowaways" . . . microbes picked up in the Earth atmosphere and sticki

      • PolygamousRanchKid said

        Getting some of Earth's microbes living on Enceladus would be exciting, but not surprising.

        Wow! Invasive species . . . Solar System Enterprise Edition!

        Yes, we should definitely take a few test tubes of some Earth microbes when we go there, and plant them. Then we can return in a few thousand years, and see how they are doing . . .

        . . . or . . . maybe they will have evolved in that time, and they will come looking to see how we are doing . . . and how we taste.

        Maybe something sent there by us will have some unintentional "stowaways" . . . microbes picked up in the Earth atmosphere and sticking to the outside of the spacecraft . . . and we will get the same effect.

        Point taken. The scientists' think life is possible there - they are not intentionally sending life there. I was off. The bit of the story that said, "This mixing of hot and cold material... might support life," allowed my mind to wander, and wonder: if life ain't already there, we might be the ones bringing life to suitable extraterrestrial habitats like Encleadus. And yes, it might be done by means of, as you say, "unintentional stowaways".

    • Earthworms can grow in simulated Martian soil

      Unless the medium contains simulated organic material, no; no, they can't (fauna - including earthworms - require more than water, minerals and energy).

    • Is it possible that our exploration of space could inadvertently be leaving a trail of life

      That's why NASA has gone to great lengths to sterilize spacecraft headed to places like Mars. There's even a planetary protection officer.

      • Gavagai80 said

        Is it possible that our exploration of space could inadvertently be leaving a trail of life

        That's why NASA has gone to great lengths to sterilize spacecraft headed to places like Mars. There's even a planetary protection officer.

        I've heard the US signed an international treaty to that effect. Alcohol sterilization, course correction to avoid the rocket's third stage hitting Mars, and spacecraft are not allowed to carry more than 300,000 bacterial spores. I'm sure NASA is doing a fine job, but they ain't the only ones sending stuff to space.

        The microbes on the surface of the ISS may or may not come from the atmosphere, but that they stay alive while in space suggests that life could 'go forth and multiply' by those

  • Those are the two minimal requirements for life. You have to have some means of storing "genetic information" and copying it. And there has to be an energy difference that life can harness to do meaningful work. Does Enceladus have enough of an energy gradient to actually drive chemical reactions?
  • 'You in the red shirt!'
    'What part of Phasers on stun did you not understand??'

  • by InterGuru ( 50986 ) <jhd AT interguru DOT com> on Tuesday February 27, 2018 @09:10PM (#56197839) Homepage

    A Princeton-led research group has discovered (http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S16/13/72E53/index.xml?section=newsreleases) an isolated community of bacteria nearly two miles underground that derives all of its energy from the decay of radioactive rocks rather than from sunlight. According to members of the team, the finding suggests life might exist in similarly extreme conditions even on other worlds.

  • [random natural property on Earth] has the same basic elements [we _think_ since we have no proof other than pictures] of another [planet/moon/asteroid] that humanity will never make it to! Isn't science great?

    Worthless tripe. Pale blue dot. All there is, all there was, all there ever will be.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor

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