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Ocean world near Saturn hotter-than-ever contender for life

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons as seen in a June 2009 image taken by the international Cassini spacecraft. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has detected hydrogen molecules in the geysers shooting off the ice-encrusted ocean world, possibly the result of deep-sea chemical reactions between water and rock that could spark microbial life, according to findings announced Thursday, April 13, 2017 in the journal Science.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. >> A tiny, ice-encrusted ocean world orbiting Saturn is now a hotter-than-ever candidate for potential life.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has detected hydrogen molecules in the geysers shooting off the moon Enceladus, possibly the result of deep-sea chemical reactions between water and rock that could spark microbial life.

The findings were announced today in the journal Science.

NASA and others are quick to point out this latest discovery does not mean there’s life on Enceladus, but that there may be conditions favorable for life.

A liquid ocean exists beneath the icy surface of Enceladus, which is barely 300 miles across. Plumes of water vapor spew from cracks at the moon’s south pole.

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