Researchers on a distant moon make a shocking discovery

A critical building block for life has been discovered in one of the most unlikely places in the galaxy.

A step A recent study Published June 14 in the journal Nature, Enceladus — an icy moon orbiting Saturn — may have an ocean rich in phosphorus, an element not previously detected on other planets. It was led by an international team of researchers Paper Cassini’s Cosmic Dust Analyzer, or CDA, was used to study Enceladus’ icy particles. of Saturn Flashing “fly ring.”

At first, the team’s geochemical modeling indicated that phosphate might be in short supply, but more recent tests show that phosphate concentrations are “at least 100 times higher in the Moon’s plume-forming seawater than in Earth’s oceans,” the study says. According to NASA, phosphorus is essential to our DNA and is found mostly in bones, cell membranes and plankton. The presence of this element also means that Enceladus may not be the only icy world with the potential to form life.

“High phosphate concentrations are the result of interactions between carbonate-rich liquid water and rocky minerals on Enceladus’ ocean floor, and may also occur on many ocean worlds,” said Christopher Klein, a planetary scientist and geochemist at Southwest Research Institute. NASA. “This key ingredient would be sufficient to survive in Enceladus’ ocean; it’s an exciting discovery for astrophysics.”

For years, scientists have been mystified by this moon. In 2015CTA researchers discovered that Enceladus produced water and spewed silica-rich rocks, which they say came from an area with “hydrothermal activity.”

Regardless, scientists are still trying to understand what this new discovery means.

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“It’s necessary to have materials, but they may not be sufficient for extraterrestrial environments to support life,” Klein continued. “Whether life could have originated in Enceladus’ ocean remains an open question.”

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