In the hunt for life, water reigns supreme, a key ingredient to life as we know it. Energy is also an essential ingredient, required to drive the chemical reactions that life depends on.
But new research takes a look at an oft-forgotten ingredient: the elements that limit life’s possibility. Because of the limited availability of these elements, water worlds such as Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s satellite Europa may not be as habitable as previously thought.
Both Europa and Enceladus contain an ocean beneath an icy crust, and simulations suggest that they should have energy sources such as geothermal vents on their ocean floors. This combination has made these moons tantalizing targets in the hunt for life.