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While it could be the title of a sci-fi magazine story, it is an actual possibility that Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, could have everything needed to host life. Out of Saturn’s 53 moons, Europa and Enceladus are the only two with the necessary conditions to support life systems, but as of today we can’t still confirm that we’ll meet Saturn aliens any time soon.

What challenges these moons to sustain life?

While still considered as “potentially habitable”, Europa and Enceladus exist outside of the Solar System’s circumstellar habitable zone, which define the limits of life within the solar system in which water can exist as a liquid at the surface and sustain an atmosphere. If life was to exist in either moon, it would be confined to subsurface habitats.

What gives us the idea there could be life on Enceladus?

Scientists from the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) discovered complex carbon-rich molecules from the liquid ocean beneath Enceladus’ icy surface, which makes it the only body in the Solar System besides Earth to contain all requirements for hosting life.

What about Europa?

The supposed smoothness and recent existence of Europa’s surface have led scientists to believe that a liquid water ocean exists beneath it, which could harbor life in an environment similar to Earth’s deep-ocean hydrothermal vents.

While we are still on baby steps, scientists are already planning missions to provide more in-depth analysis of both moons’ plumes and what kind of biological processes are happening there.

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