Reanalysis of icy rock grains from a ring of Saturn – fed by ice plumes from its moon Enceladus – has revealed the presence of phosphorus, the only key essential element for life that hadn’t already been spotted

Space



21 September 2022

Saturn's moon Enceladus

Finding phosphorus means Saturn’s moon Enceladus has now been shown to have all six of the essential elements for life

Cassini Imaging Team/SSI/JPL/ESA/NASA

Saturn’s moon Enceladus is producing phosphorus, meaning that this icy moon holds all the essential building blocks for life as we know it.

Every life form on Earth contains six key elements: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur. The known existence of these, bar phosphorus, on Enceladus, combined with a liquid ocean and a warm core, had already made the moon one of the most likely places for life …



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