CTOnews.com, Dec. 22 (Xinhua)-- A team of Harvard University researchers reviewed data from the Cassini spacecraft and found that Enceladus released a plume of gas containing molecules such as methanol, ethane and oxygen.
The research was recently published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
The Cassini spacecraft first discovered a large number of material plumes escaping into space from Enceladus's southern hemisphere in 2005. It was previously thought that these plumes came from underground oceans under cracks in the satellite's ice.
The Cassini spacecraft flew past Enceladus twice in 2011 and 2012, and the data were recorded by the ion and neutral mass spectrometer (INMS) on board.
Jonah Peter and colleagues at Harvard University analyzed data from two INMS records and compared a large known mass spectrum library to determine the presence of water, carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia and molecular hydrogen in the plume samples.
The team used statistical analysis techniques to analyze billions of possible components of plume matter, and then found hydrocarbons hydrogen cyanide (HCN), acetylene (C2H2), propylene (C3H6) and ethane (C2H6), as well as traces of alcohols (methanol) and molecular oxygen.
The researchers believe that although organic molecular oxides have been detected on Enceladus, there is no direct confirmation of the existence of life on Enceladus, but it reinforces this possibility.
CTOnews.com attached the reference address of the paper: Peter, J.S., Nordheim, T.A. & Hand, K.P. Detection of HCN and diverse redox chemistry in the plume of Enceladus. Nat Astron (2023). Https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-023-02160-0
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