With such exciting results coming from the end of the Cassini mission, it’s depressing that neither NASA nor ESA are planning a return to the Saturnian system. The problem, of course, is finding funding – and part of the solution is tying every result together as being progress in a search for life.
Yet the presence of hydrogen in Enceladus’s plumes need not point to a thriving colony of space weevils living a fine life around sea floor vents. Indeed, it may suggest the opposite – any thriving ecosystem would be efficient in using up hydrogen and so the fact we see it in the plumes is an argument for the absence of life.
Which argument is right? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. It’s clear that Enceladus is a fascinating, complex world and we should go back soon. Not because it reminds us of Earth, but because it has its own story to tell.