Monday, March 31, 2008

Basic Ingredients of Life on Saturn Moon

We are closing in on our first evidence of life on an astronomical body besides this one. Scientists have discovered warmth, water and organic chemicals on Enceladus, one of Saturn's many small moons:

The scientists described observations made by the Cassini spacecraft when it flew over the surface of Enceladus (pronounced en-SELL-ah-dus) on March 12 as part of an exploration of Saturn and its moons.

Scientists working on the mission did not say they had found actual evidence of life on this moon, where geysers at the south pole continuously shoot watery plumes some 500 miles off the icy surface into space. But they said the building blocks for life were there, and described the plumes as a surprising organic brew, sort of like carbonated water with an essence of natural gas.

“Water vapor was the major constituent,” said Hunter Waite of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “There was methane present. There was carbon dioxide. There was carbon monoxide. There were simple organics and there were more complex organics.”

While it isn't proof of life, it sure has to be enough to send the creationists scrambling for their Bibles to find some way to incorporate life on other planets into their ever-shifting theories of origins.

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