The June 7,2021 issue of Nature Astronomy underlines a surprisingly large amount of methane found on Saturn's moon Titan and Enceladus, which may be a proof of microbial alien life forms. It was detected by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
Titan (Saturn's moon) has methane in its atmosphere and Enceladus (also Saturn's moon) has a liquid ocean with erupting plumes of gas and water.
The Cassini spacecraft detected a relatively high concentration of certain molecules associated with hydrothernal vents on the bottom of Earth's oceans, specifically dihydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide.
Biological methanogenesis appeared to be compatible with the data.
There is a possibility of abiotic formation of methane, dihydrogen and carbon dioxide through the hydrothemal process if Enceladus formed through accretion of organic rich materials supplied by comets.
What are Methanogens ?
Methanogens are microorganism capable of generating methane as a metabolic by product (As found on Earth).
They are found in swamps, dead organic matter and even in the human gut.
They do not require oxygen for their survival.
They can be found even in high temperatures
Saturn's moon Titan
It is the largest moon of Saturn and the second largest moon in our solar system after Jupiter's Ganymede.
Titan has rivers lakes and seas on its surface (containing hydrocarbons like methane and ethane)
Atmosphere is made mostly of nitrogen, like Earth's and is four times denser.
Clouds on Titan causes methane rain
Its surface temperature is around-179 degree celcius due to its distance from sun.
Saturn's Moon Enceladus
t is a small icy moon which has an abundance of hydrogen molecules in water plumer. The plumes also contain carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia.
Vents present on Enceladus are similar to hydrothermal vents on Earth (which inhabit microbes.)
Cassini Spacecraft of NASA
the Cassini–Huygens space research mission commonly called Cassini was a collaboration among National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency to send a space probe to study planet Saturn and its system, including its rings and natural satellites.
It was launched on15 October, 1997 and had a mission life of 19 years, 335 days.
It is the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest planet in our solar system after Jupiter.
Its rings are made up of ice and rocks.
Liek Jupiter, Saturn is made up of hydrogen and Helium.
Missions like Pioneer 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2 have visited Saturn but Cassini orbited Saturn 294 times from 2004 to 2017