Signs of life in the rings of Saturn?

Saturn_moon_1“Life will be everywhere,” explorer Penelope Boston told us at TED2006. “It will be everywhere we look.” Boston boldly proclaimed that we’ll find life throughout the universe, as soon as we start looking underground and in caves. And she may well be right…

In a thrilling report published in the journal Science today, we learn there are strong predicters of life on Enceladus, a relatively obscure moon of Saturn. It’s only 300 miles wide, but new images (returned by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft) have revealed spurts of icy crystals, a possible indication of underground water pockets. And where there’s water, there may well be life. “We find ourselves staring at the distinct possibility that we may have on Enceladus subterranean environments capable of supporting life,” writes Dr. Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini imaging team. “We may have just stumbled upon the Holy Grail of modern day planetary exploration. It doesn’t get any more exciting than this.”

More detail: Cassini imaging website | New York Times article