Bacteria beyond Earth?

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Signs of life detectable in single ice grains emitted from moons orbiting Saturn and Jupiter

An artist’s rendering of Saturn’s moon Enceladus showing hydrotherma
An artist’s rendering of Saturn’s moon Enceladus showing hydrothermal activity on the seafloor and cracks in the moon’s icy crust that allow material from the watery interior to be ejected into space. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The ice-encrusted oceans of some of the moons orbiting Saturn and Jupiter are prime candidates in the search for extraterrestrial life. A new lab-based study led by Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Washington, Seattle, shows that individual ice grains ejected from these planetary bodies may contain enough material for instruments headed there this fall to detect signs of life - if such life exists. "For the first time we have shown that even a tiny fraction of cellular material could be identified by a mass spectrometer onboard a spacecraft," says lead author Dr. ...
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