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Saturn’s Moon Shows Curious Signs of Alien Life

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The same early life found abundantly on Earth may be living on Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.

It is a commonly accepted theory that life started on Earth in the form of tiny, microbial animals which are found even today deep in our oceans. These include bacteria, and archaea which lack a cell nucleus or other membrane-bound cellular structures, yet are still biologically complex, including the ability to create protein-producing DNA.

The earliest evidence for life on Earth comes from fossilized mats of cyanobacteria called stromatolites in Greenland that are about 3.7 billion years old.

These tiny creatures are so profuse, they outnumber macroscopic life – including mammals, fish, reptiles, and every other form of “life” that we are used to seeing with the naked eye. Without microbes, life as we know it on Earth would likely never have formed.

Curiously, scientists are now seeing signs of this same type of early life on one of Saturn’s moons – confirming that alien life indeed exists in our solar system.

Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, has been considered a hot spot for possible extraterrestrial life by researchers from NASA, and other institutions for decades.

Interest in looking for alien life on Saturn’s moon ramped up just after NASA’s Cassini satellite discovered that plumes sprouting up from Enceladus’s surface contained water and other gases. There are likely hot vents coming up from underground oceans which may spray gaseous matter and watery microbial life – just like on ancient Earth.

Scientists tried to reproduce the conditions on one of Saturn’s moons and found that it could, perhaps, be hospitable to life.

Only recently scientists postulated that the large amounts of methane on Enceladus showed the most promising evidence of alien life, acting as proof of microbial or biological activity.

Moreover, there are hardy forms of bacteria on Earth that could withstand the extremely cold weather of Saturn’s moon. These super strong microbes could be eating hydrogen that is produced by the interactions between water and rock just beneath Enceladus’ surface. The biological by-product of microbes eating hydrogen is methane.

Simon Rittmann, of the Department of Ecogenomics and Systems Biology at the University of Vienna in Austria, said of one study which measured methane on Enceladus,

“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.”

Further study suggests that the heated vents spewing certain elements into frigid waters on an icy ocean that covers the moon’s entire surface could be creating a chemical soup that supports life.

The proposed single-celled microorganisms are thought to live in extreme conditions just like the same forms of life on Earth – in places like hot geysers, the seafloor, and oil wells. They eat carbon dioxide and release methane.

“Under these conditions, life could exist,” said researcher Simon Rittmann, who led the experiment as part of the University of Vienna’s division of archaea biology and ecogenomics.

NASA’s Cassini project, called one of the most ambitious efforts in planetary space exploration, did not reportedly contain the right surveying tools to confirm if there is microbial life on Saturn’s moon. However, scientists suggest that ice samples taken from the South Pole, as it comes out of the rocky crust, would likely contain all the proof we’d need to confirm alien life on Enceladus.

Enceladus discoveries have changed the direction of planetary science. – Linda Spilker, Cassini Project Scientist

It is clear the Cassini project is revealing a lot about Saturn, and its moons, but that much more is yet to be revealed. One of NASA’s top engineers has even stated that alien spaceships are hiding in Saturn’s rings, but even without confirmation of claims like these, the verification of microbial life on Saturn’s moon would mean that many more places in our Galaxy are likely to harbor life which resembles what we see here on our own planet.

Cassini images of Saturn’s moon Enceladus backlit by the sun show the fountain-like sources of the fine spray of material that towers over the south polar region. Credit: NASA.gov.

Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, beleives that there are many places near us where some form of microbial life is likely to exist.

There are at least seven other places in our own solar system, so kind of next door places you could get to with a rocket, that could have microbial life,” Shostak said.

Shostack also believes that we’ll possibly spot these alien microbial life sooner than we could find intelligent extraterrestrial life. He states that the most logical places to look are:

When asked what conditions would be needed to support microbial life Shostak says,

You have something that gives you food, fundamentally, and the opportunity to create life, which after all is just organic chemistry.”


Featured image: NASA

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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