NASA’s Cassini spacecraft first detected the presence of methane on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s 62 moons, last year.
After thorough research, experts believe that the methane could be a byproduct of alien activity.
A new study has found that some extremely tough microbes found on Earth could survive in the freezing conditions of Enceladus.
What’s more is that these hardy microbes could be eating hydrogen that is produced by interactions between water and rock beneath the icy surface of Enceladus.
And the latest study performed in a laboratory on Earth shows that a biological byproduct of these microbes eating hydrogen is methane.
The study’s co-author Simon Rittmann, of the Department of Ecogenomics and Systems Biology at the University of Vienna in Austria, told Space: “We were able to show that, under putative Enceladus conditions, biological methane production occurs in the lab.
“Hence, some of the methane detected on Enceladus could in principle be of biological origin.
“From an astronomical perspective, future missions to Enceladus or other icy moons should be equipped to be able to detect methanogenic biosignatures related to methanogens, like certain lipids or ratios of certain carbon isotopes.”
Another of Saturn’s moons, Titan, has also previously been touted as a possible home to alien activity.
Last year, the Cassini spacecraft detected carbon chain anions – one of the main ingredients of life on Earth – on Titan.
Scientists describe them as prebiotic meaning that they could be the foundation for life as with the case on Earth.
The chemicals were found in the moon’s atmosphere which has redefined scientists understanding of Titan.
Ravi Desai, study lead author and PhD student at University College London (UCL), said: “We have made the first unambiguous identification of carbon chain anions in a planet-like atmosphere, which we believe are a vital stepping-stone in the production line of growing bigger, and more complex organic molecules, such as the moon’s large haze particles.
“This is a known process in the interstellar medium – the large molecular clouds from which stars themselves form – but now we’ve seen it in a completely different environment, meaning it could represent a universal process for producing complex organic molecules.”