Saturn's moon Enceladus might have waters warm enough for life

Researchers have been studying Saturn's moon Enceladus after research has shown that the moon might have water under the icy surface that is warm enough to sustain life. Scientist have been looking at data gathered by the Cassini orbiter that hints that the moon might have thermal activity on the ocean floor that could provide the conditions needed for life to develop.

The researchers are studying four years worth of data from the Cosmic Dust Analyzer aboard Cassini along with studying lab experiments and computer simulations. The research has found supersmall dust grains in orbit around Saturn measuring 4-16 nanometers in diameter that are rich in silicon. Silicon hints that there is hydrothermal activity below the surface of the moon.

The reason that the scientists think the silica hints at hydrothermal activity on Enceladus is because silica is most commonly formed through hydrothermal activity here on Earth. The team believes that the silica was formed in hydrothermal vents on the floor of the ocean under Enceladus' surface.

Those waters under the surface would need to be at least 90C to create silica. The silica is eventually stuck in the ice on the surface of the planet where it is spewed into space from one of the many geysers on the surface of Enceladus. After making its way into space with the ice, the ice erodes leaving the silica to fall into orbit around Saturn.