Saturn Moon Now 'Best Bet' for Finding Life
Probe finds new signs of underground Enceladus ocean
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2014 3:13 AM CDT
Updated Apr 4, 2014 5:00 AM CDT
This illustration provided by NASA and based on Cassini spacecraft measurements shows the possible interior of Saturn's moon Enceladus.   (AP Photo/NASA, JPL, Caltech)

(Newser) – Saturn's sixth-largest moon holds an underground ocean with at least as much water as Lake Superior, according to exciting new data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft that makes some scientists believe Enceladus is now the place in our solar system where we're most likely to find extraterrestrial life. New measurements suggest the moon, which is just over 300 miles wide, has a 6-mile deep ocean buried under 20 to 25 miles of ice, reports CNN. The new findings appear to confirm earlier signs of an underground ocean, including plumes of vapor from the moon's south pole.

The new finding "confirms in a really robust way what has been sort of the standard model," a NASA planetary scientist tells the New York Times, noting that Enceladus is the only place outside Earth known to hold liquid water, energy, carbon and nitrogen—the four essential building blocks for life as we know it. "I would say it's our best bet" for finding extraterrestrial life, he says. Scientists hope future missions will be able to take samples from the vapor plumes, where organic molecules have already been detected.

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CraigK
Apr 5, 2014 10:13 AM CDT
I don't know that the rush to find extra terrestrial life is all about: we can't get along with each other, so we sure won;t be able to co-exist with anyone else. The discovery of a technologically advanced extraterrestrial species would be the end of the human race.
iq145
Apr 5, 2014 12:50 AM CDT
You know, we spend billions of dollars searching through the solar system for intelligent life to communicate with, when we have intelligent life right here on the planet with us that we don't even attempt to talk to or communicate with. Intelligence is the ability to live in harmony with your natural world. By that criteria, we are the stupidest of species. We will lose more species of plants and animals between 1980 and 2045 than we have lost in the last 65 million years. That rate of extinction is unprecedented and we as one species are responsible for that. Oceans are dying in our time, and the International Court of Justice has only JUST decided to protect the world's whales and their Sanctuary from being plundered on a mass scale.
dann0
Apr 4, 2014 12:25 PM CDT
In the 1600's, people thought that there was nothing in the sky but what they could see. What they could see, they thought that the earth was the center and everything revolved around it. Once they started to realize that it wasn't true, the Catholics went crazy and threw people in prison where they were tortured and eventually brutally killed. I think people so think it's a waste of time, money, and energy to find other life, which further disproves what the church has been teaching since inception, are just afraid to think what they've been taught about heaven in the clouds above earth is not true. Knowledge and exploration helps eradicate superstition. It's not a waste of time or resources.