Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, is our closest great hope for life beyond Earth
Ethan Siegel
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Relevant news: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6334/155.ful

— It is apparent that the relatively high abundance of H2 in the plume translates to a strong thermodynamic drive for methanogenesis in the ocean of Enceladus. This potential is independent of the source of H2 because the Gibbs energy and chemical affinity are state functions. However, maintenance of a disequilibrium concentration of H2 in an outgassing ocean implies a continual source (e.g., hydrothermal input). Our analysis supports the feasibility of methanogenesis as an energy-releasing process that can occur over a wide range of geochemical conditions plausible for Enceladus’ ocean. This finding has implications for determining the habitability of Enceladus’ subsurface ocean (17), although the favorable thermodynamics alone are agnostic as to whether methanogenesis is actually occurring. —

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