Saturn's Moon Rhea May Have A Breathable Atmosphere

Saturn's icy moon Rhea has an oxygen and carbon dioxide atmosphere that is very similar to Earth's. Even better, the carbon dioxide suggests there's life - and that possibly humans could breathe the air.

It seems oxygen is far more abundant than we ever suspected, particularly on moons that seem to be completely frozen solid. We recently found evidence of oxygen on Jupiter's moons Europa and Ganymede, and now this finding on Europa. In fact, because the region of space surrounding Saturn's rings has an oxygen atmosphere, it's thought even more of the icy moons within the gas giant's magnetosphere likely have little atmospheres of their own.

According to new data from the Cassini probe, the moon's thin atmosphere is kept up by the constant chemical decomposition of ice water on the surface of Rhea. It's likely that Saturn's fierce magnetosphere is continually irradiating this ice water, which is what helps to maintain the atmosphere. Researchers suspect a lot of Rhea's oxygen isn't actually free right now, but is instead trapped inside Rhea's frozen oceans.

While the presence oxygen is relatively easy to understand, the carbon dioxide is actually even more intriguing. The gas is likely created by reactions between organic molecules and oxidants down on the moon's surface. That seems rather shockingly Earth-like, or at least like the Earth of a few billion years ago. This is just further proof that the building blocks and basic prerequisites of life exist all throughout the solar system, even if it was apparently only on Earth where conditions were good enough for it to actually lead very far.



    There might be oxygen, but it'd be bloody cold.

    "We recently found evidence of oxygen on Jupiter’s moons Europa and Ganymede, and now this finding on Europa"
    Should say "and now this finding on Rhea"

    I love astronomy :)

    Cool, so that's 0.000000000000000005 atmospheres, when compared to Earth. To put that in perspective for you, a satellite in orbit around Earth has more oxygen surrounding it.

    I don't know where the "breathable" part came from, but this is just sensationalized science.

    Icy moon eh? I suggest we send an Imperial probe droid first to find those pesky rebels, then push forward with the AT-ATs to take Rhea.

    Plus keep a close eye out for any Wampas.

      Just pull up next to it in the D.S. and take it out if there are rebels - Saturn's got too many moons anyway.

    So maybe if we go, we won't die on Rhea.


    Man, when is the human race finally going to step up to Sci-Fi fiction and invent faster than light travel, and start terraforming other planets.

    In the 1920's, people thought sci-fi writers were crazy when they wrote about us going to the moon. Forty years later, it happened.

    I, for one, welcome our new jellyfish overlords.

    Fascinating. I still say we need to probe Uranus, though. Mass Effect 2 hmmm?

    Its only a matter of time before we find a ancient alien tech lab on Mars and find out the moon of Pluto is actually a jump gate....

    This is really epicly awesome, but im getting a feeling this is posted on the wrong site XD
    if it counts, i'd be happy if kotaku kept this sorta stuff :D

    Umm except that the amount of oxygen to co2 is about 5 billion times smaller then on earth....

    "We recently found evidence of oxygen on Jupiter’s moons Europa and Ganymede, and now this finding on Europa."

    And now this finding on Rhea ?

    its just kinda too bad none of us will live to see the day we inhabit other planets =/

    was this meant for io9 or something? wtf

    I hope we find proof of life outside our planet within our lifetimes. Too bad its so expensive to send robots to those moons. Nasa should abandon Mars and start focussing on the outer solar system moons.

    So what? What has this got to do with games?!

    And this has to do with games how?

      Star Wars, Mass Effect, Warhammer 40k, Space Travel and Aliens.

      Pick whichever relation you prefer most :)

      Hahah, kotaku isn't about games!

    1 step closed to mass effect :)

    cool im gonna ask santa for this game

    "Probing Your Rhea"

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