Deep beneath its frozen primal oceans, Saturn's moon Enceladus may hide the building blocks of life according to recent research. The finding raises exciting new questions as to whether humanity is alone in the cosmos.
Searching for large amounts of data transmitted by NASA's Cassini probe, researchers discovered that Enceladus emitted "new species of organic compounds" in ice clouds from its subterranean oceans. The substances could become "ideal precursors" for the "synthesis of biologically relevant organic compounds" including amino acids that make up proteins and play a litany of other roles in life as earthlings know it.
The findings were published Wednesday in a study in the Monthly Notices of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The researchers found that Enceladus' hydrothermal vents under the ocean are responsible for pushing the compounds into the ice clouds analyzed by Cassini and said that if these vents operate on similar principles to those on Earth, they could Finally, convert chemicals into amino acids.
"We do not yet know if amino acids are needed for life beyond Earth, but finding the molecules that make up amino acids is an important part of the puzzle", Nozair Khawaja, the research team said in a press release:
If the conditions are right, these molecules from the deep ocean of Enceladus could be in the same pathway as we see here on Earth.  Although Cassini's almost 20-year mission ended in 2017 – when NASA plunged the probe into the Saturnian atmosphere in a "grand finale" to gather as much new information as possible, scientists are likely to get the data examine collected for decades.
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