In Depth

Food for microbes abundant on Enceladus

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Science  14 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6334, pp. 121
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6334.121

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Summary

In 2005, NASA's Cassini spacecraft spied jets of water ice and vapor erupting into space from fissures on Enceladus, evidence of a salty ocean beneath the saturnian moon's placid icy surface. Now, it turns out that the jets contain hydrogen gas, a sign of ongoing reactions on the floor of that alien sea, according to a new study published this week in Science. Because such chemistry provides energy for microbial life on Earth, the discovery makes Enceladus the top candidate for hosting life elsewhere in the solar system.