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High levels of methane on Saturn’s moon could indicate microbial life

سطح بالای متان در قمر سیاره زحل می‌تواند نشانه وجود حیات میکروبی باشد

New research shows that the level of methane in Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus is much higher than can be explained by geochemical processes. Therefore, it is possible that there may be microbial life in Enceladus.

Researchers at the University of Arizona in a study whose results are published in the journal Nature Astronomy Published, they have tested various models to see which explanation is more consistent with their observations of Enceladus’ condition. Based on samples found in the ground, the team identified microbes that can produce methane.

They looked at their studies to see if hydrothermal cycles could produce enough hydrogen to feed microbes and if the temperature was right for them to survive. The researchers also looked at the possible effects of microbes on their environment. They then compared the results of these studies with Cassini probe observations of these giant blue geysers.

Conceptual design of Cassini passage in Enceladus geysers

“In short, we were not only able to determine that Cassini’s observations were consistent with an environment conducive to life, but we were also able to predict future observations if microbes were produced by microbes on the bottom of the Enceladus Sea,” said lead author Regis Freya. How will it be.”

Of course, it is too early to conclude about the existence of life on Enceladus, Freye says. “Models show that this probability is very high, and that biomethane production seems to be consistent with this information.”

With all that said, it is still possible that the methane-producing agent on Enceladus was not life but a natural phenomenon like no other on earth. Researchers say that one of the possible phenomena that could be the cause of this is the decomposition of primary organic matter from Enceladus nucleus to methane, dihydrogen and carbon dioxide through hydrothermal activity. But the probability of such a phenomenon depends on how Enceladus formed.

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