An ocean at least as large as Lake Superior lies below a thick layer of ice on Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn. The results support earlier signs that this small moon has liquid water. That means Enceladus could be hospitable to life.
Sending a probe to Enceladus with a drill wouldn’t be entirely practical because the liquid water is so far under the ice that it would be hard to access. So how can we look for signs of life there? A spacecraft could fly through the plumes of material being ejected from fractures in the ice. But a more advanced, more sensitive version of the same instrument could better test for the “menu of molecules” associated with an advanced biological system. Detecting these molecules could be the key factor for whether in fact there is life down there or not.
Photo Credit: NASA