The ocean beneath the surface of the moon, Enceladus (the sixth-largest moon of Saturn), may have concentrations higher than previously known levels of carbon dioxide and hydrogen and a higher level of pH, which could provide favorable conditions for life, a new study by scientists at the University of Washington showed.
According to “phys”, leading researcher Lucas Weaver, a PhD student in Earth and Space Sciences, said the presence of such high concentrations could provide life-sustaining fuel, if any.
New information on the composition of the Enceladus environment for planetary scientists also provides a better understanding of the ocean’s ability to host life.
Enceladus and its saline ocean beneath the moon is important because of the similarities in pH, salinity and temperature with Earth’s oceans.
But Weaver and his colleagues say that the vapors from the ocean can be very different. They have found that the reason is to divide the column or separate the gases, allowing some of the components of the column to explode, leaving the other components behind.
With this in mind, the team returned to data from Cassini’s mission to simulate a computer showing the effects of disintegration, to get a clearer idea of the composition of the interior oceans.
They found significant differences between the Enceladus column and ocean chemistry, and found that previous explanations reduced the presence of hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide in the ocean while high concentrations.
“It’s better to find higher concentrations of gas than none at all,” he said.
“Although there are exceptions, most of life on Earth works better in water or consumes it with a semi-neutral pH, so similar conditions in Enceladus may be encouraging,” he said.