© 2023 90.7 WMFE. All Rights Reserved.
Public Media News for Central Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

In Search For Life, NASA Finds Two "Ocean Worlds"

This artist's rendering shows Cassini diving through the Enceladus plume in 2015. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This artist's rendering shows Cassini diving through the Enceladus plume in 2015. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA scientists announced the findings of two so-called ‘Ocean Worlds’ in our solar system.

Two NASA spacecraft discovered plumes of water vapor erupting from the moons of Saturn and Jupiter – kind of like geysers here on earth.

Scientist say the Cassini spacecraft, launched about twenty years ago, surveyed one of Saturn’s moons Enceladus. Linda Spilker, Cassini Project Scientists, says instruments found a critical element in those plumes.

"The new finding is finding hydrogen coming from the plume of Enceladus," said Spilker, "and it could support potentially microbes with energy on the seafloor of Enceladus."

It’s believed hydrogen is one essential ingredient to support life. The others? Carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur in an environment with liquid water and  an energy source.

Scientists observed similar plumes on Jupiter’s moon Europa. NASA is developing a new spacecraft to take a closer look at that moon  called the Europa Clipper.

It's a part of NASA's investigation into "Ocean Worlds" in the solar system, says NASA's Planetary Sciences Division Director Jim Green, where scientists hope to find signs of life.

"We’re looking in a way we never thought possible before for environments in our solar system which may harbor life today."

The Cassini spacecraft, which discovered the hydrogen plumes of Enceladus, is nearing the end of it's life as a planetary probe -- it's schedule to crash into the surface of Saturn later this year.

Brendan Byrne is WMFE's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the WMFE newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing WMFE's internship program.

Byrne also hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.
90.7 WMFE relies on donors like you. Your support allows us to provide independent, trustworthy journalism and fact-based content. Show your support today by contributing on a monthly basis or making a single online donation.