Just days after posting about five places in the solar system that could support life now or in the past, it was announced that Saturn’s moon Enceladus may very likely have hydrothermal vents. And they’re hot. If confirmed, this would mean that only two places in the solar system are known to have them, Enceladus and Earth.
Jets of water vapour have been observed at the southern polar area of Enceladus coming from around 100 cryovolcanoes. The “tiger stripes” found on Enceladus are in this region.
Hydrothermal vents are wonderful places to find life that doesn’t necessarily need oxygen to live. It’s hypothesised that life could have formed around these vents on prehistoric Earth, as they are teeming with life. Knowing this, my initial assessment of Enceladus’ possibility of supporting life has gone up quite a bit.
This is very exciting news. Cassini will pass by Enceladus only three more times. Hopefully more information will be discovered.