New organic compounds discovered in Saturn’s moon enceladus
In the moonlight Saturn Enceladus, a new type of organic compound, the elements of amino acids, has been discovered. The result is the result of a continuing flood of NASA data from the Cassini mission.
Strong hydrothermal vents remove material from the core of Enceladus
which mixes with water from the massive underground ocean on the moon before being released into space like water vapor and ice grains.
The newly discovered molecule fused with ice grains is defined as a compound containing nitrogen and oxygen.
On Earth, such compounds are part of a chemical reaction that produces amino acids, the building blocks of life. Hydrothermal vents from the ocean floor provide energy that feeds the reaction.
Scientists believe that Enceladus’ hydrothermal vent works the same way and can provide energy that leads to the production of amino acids.
If conditions are right, these molecules from the deep sea of Enceladus can be on the same path as us on Earth. We don’t yet know whether amino acids are needed for extraterrestrial life, but the search for molecules that make up amino acids is an important part of the puzzle that drives the research team at Freie Universität Berlin. The results are published on 2 October in the Royal Astronomical Society Monthly Bulletin.
Even though the Cassini mission was completed in September 2017, the data it provides will continue to be collected for decades. The Khawaja Team used the Spaceborne Space Dust Analyzer or CDA data to detect ice beads emitted by Enceladus on the Saturn E-Ring.
The researchers used CDA mass spectrometer measurements to determine the composition of organic material in grains. The organic substance identified first dissolves in the Enceladus sea and then evaporates from the surface of the water before it condenses and freezes in the ice grains in the lunar crust fraction, the scientists found. Ice seeds were analyzed by CDA Cassini.
This new discovery complements the discovery of large insoluble complex organic molecules believed to be floating on the surface of the sea of Enceladus.
The team has deepened the work recently to find marine soluble materials needed for hydrothermal processes that stimulate amino acid formation. Here we find smaller and more soluble organic building blocks – potential precursors for amino acids and other materials needed for life on Earth.