NASA on Thursday announced that it has discovered one of Saturn's moons could sustain life. The tiny moon, called Enceladus, has "almost all of the ingredients that you need to support life as we know it on Earth," project scientist Linda Spilker said.
The revelation that prompted the announcement was that Enceladus is home to an underground saltwater ocean, which hints at active energy sources similar to the Earth's undersea vents. On Earth, seawater reacts with "hot upwelling rocks that are rich in iron and magnesium," BBC explains, resulting in a release of hydrogen — one of the elements necessary to sustain life. Scientists believe a similar reaction is occurring in the water beneath Enceladus' surface.
While the discovery is not proof of life on Enceladus, it does mean the moon "joins Mars and [Jupiter's moon] Europa as the best potential locations for life beyond Earth in our solar system," London-based physics professor Andrew Coates said.