Saturn’s moon Enceladus is unique in our Solar System — with plumes of water vapor and ice perpetually erupting, shooting jets hundreds of miles into space from its global subsurface ocean through cracks —parallel, evenly spaced “stripes” that are some 130 kilometers long and 35 kilometers apart–on Enceladus’s ice-encased surface providing an intriguing glimpse into what the moon’s subsurface ocean might contain, possibly providing conditions favorable to life. The answer, a new study has found, may lie in the plumes.
“Modern metabolism has a precursor, a template, that was non-biological,” says biochemist Greg Springsteen at Furman University.
“Without phosphorus there would be no thought,” observed Jacob Moleschott a 19th-century physiologist and philosopher. Phosphorus is one of the six main elements that make up the human body and an essential element for life as we know it for the creation of DNA, cell membranes, bones and teeth in humans, and even the microbiome of ocean-dwelling plankton–as a possible signature in the search for life in the cosmos.
Can all life as we know it be traced back to the interstellar medium (ISM)? This March 2021, Michael McCarthy, an astrochemist and Acting Deputy Director of Harvard Center for Astrophysics (CfA), commented about the discovery of a vast, previously unknown reservoir of carbon as well as new molecules in a cold, dark molecular cloud in the interstellar medium for the first time “It makes you wonder,” he exclaimed, “what else is out there that we just haven’t looked for.”
“The amazing thing about these observations, about this discovery, and about these molecules, is that no one had looked, or looked hard enough,” said Michael McCarthy, an astrochemist and Acting Deputy Director of Harvard Center for Astrophysics (CfA) about the discovery of a vast, previously unknown reservoir of new molecules in a cold, dark molecular cloud in the interstellar medium for the first time, “It makes you wonder what else is out there that we just haven’t looked for.”