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Current Affairs

Plumes on Enceladus

Date: 10 July 2021 Tags: Space

Issue

High concentration of methane, carbon dioxide and dihydrogen has been detected by NASA’s Cassini mission on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

 

Background

The spacecraft was moving through the plumes on the planet’s moon when the discovery was made.

 

Details

  • Other discoveries made by the spacecraft include methane on Titan’s atmosphere and liquid ocean with plumes on Enceladus.

  • The researchers used several methods to find out if methanogenesis was the reasons for higher concentration of methane and hydrogen.

  • The process of methanogenesis includes production of methane by microbes. The research made use of geochemistry and microbial ecology to make observations.

 

Methane source on Earth

  • Majority of methane produced on Earth is through biological process. Microbes give out methane as a byproduct of metabolism.

  • These organisms can be found in all places including swamps, dead and human gut. They do not need oxygen to survive.

  • They also can survive in harsh conditions such as Martian atmosphere. Their role in climate change is also being studied.

 

Conclusions

  • There is no clear evidence of biological source of methane. Scientists have used various conditions to predict if it is possible for organisms to habitat.

  • Other sources could be chemical breakdown of organic matter that is present in the core of Enceladus. But for that hydrothermal vents are needed.

  • The hydrothermal vents source cannot be the reason for such high amounts of methane concentration on Enceladus. But for other sources, sea floor has to be studied.