NASA has detected ‘large wafting plumes’ of methane on Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, Enceladus.
And you know where methane comes from—butts. On a flyby of the 504 kilometre-wide Enceladus, NASA‘s Saturn orbiter identified a geyser blasting water and ice particles into space near Enceladus’ south pole. The particles were analysed and found to be loaded with compounds including, dihydrogen (H2) and a variety of carbon-containing organic compounds, including the one I get told to leave the room for—methane (CH4). Based on the discovery, astrobiologists believe that life may exist within the moon’s subsurface sea from whence the geyser did shoot forth, and it appears the methane is produced biologically, as opposed to through a geochemical process. According to Régis Ferrière, an associate professor at the University of Arizona’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the methane could very well be produced by ‘Earth-like microbes’ that ‘eat’ the dihydrogen and produce the toot gas. ‘What else could explain the surprisingly large amount of methane detected by Cassini?’ He said. Well, gee whiz, Régis, I dunno, maybe something bigger than a microbe? Maybe something huge and ugly that subsists on a diet of space beans and galactic brussels sprouts? For more information about our future farty invaders, check out the source article at space.com