The search for extraterrestrial life in our own solar system could have taken a step closer recently with the discovery of what is believed to vast lake of water secluded under the frozen surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
Enceladus has amazed scientists since 2005 when huge geysers at its south pole were found to be spewing icy water out into space. Scientist knew this water must have been coming from somewhere but little else was known.
Scientists now believe that this lake of water is about 40km down under the icy crust where the moons rocky surface can be found. Measurements taken from Nasa’s Cassini probe estimate this lake to be about the size of Lake superior in North America, or about 250 times the water mass of lake Garda in Italy.
The solar system contains many moons thought to contain water, but Enceladus is of special interest because of this water believed to be in contact with rock. The BBC points out “This could make for some interesting chemistry – the sort of reactions that might facilitate the emergence of life”.
Scientists now are pondering the question as to wether thee has been enough time for life to emerge on the icy moon.
Source: Science magazine via the BBC.