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Astronomie - The last vital ingredient for life has been discovered on Enceladus

18.12.2022

Phosphorus, though rare on Earth’s surface, may be abundant on other worlds

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Phosphorus is a limiting nutrient for life here on Earth, but it may abound in the underground ocean of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus (pictured).

JPL/NASA, SPACE SCIENCE INSTITUTE

CHICAGO — The last key ingredient for life has been discovered on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus.

Phosphorus is a vital building block of life, used to construct DNA and RNA. Now, an analysis of data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft reveals that Enceladus’ underground ocean contains the crucial nutrient. Not only that, its concentrations there may be thousands of times greater than in Earth’s ocean, planetary scientist Yasuhito Sekine reported December 14 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting.

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