to me First time in historyResearchers have discovered that phosphorousa component of life as we know it, is in the ocean Outside of earth.
The chemical element was found on Enceladus, Sun Saturn’s moons Which includes a vast liquid ocean under a thick layer of ice.
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The discovery, published in the journal Nature and led by the Free University of Berlin, is made possible by data collected by the Cassini-Huygens mission, completed by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). in 2017.
“There is a lot of interest in phosphorus because it is one of the building blocks of life as we know it,” Gianrico Villaccioni, a researcher at the National Institute of Astrophysics in Italy, explains in an interview with ANSA. “We already have evidence in this direction and now we have more confirmations,” he added.
A study published in 2022 by the University of Science and Technology of China has already provided a first estimate of the abundance of phosphorus on Enceladus.
In now-published work, researchers led by Frank Postberg analyzed ice fragments ejected from the frozen moon’s subterranean ocean and collected by the Cassini spacecraft.
The data not only show the presence of phosphorus, but also indicate that its concentration can be at least 100 times higher than that in Earth’s oceans.
“Because they are indirect measurements, there is always a margin of uncertainty. Phosphorus has already been found in other objects, such as comets, so the element was present when the solar system formed, but this is the first time it has been detected in the ocean outside the solar system. our planet,” says Filacchione, who was also part of the Cassini-Huygens mission science team.
A similar situation could be repeated with some of Jupiter’s moons, especially Europa, which are waiting to be visited by two missions: Juice, from the European Space Agency, and Europa Clipper, from NASA. “Future missions to return to Enceladus, down to its surface, are also being studied,” says Villaccioni.
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