Billionaire Yuri Milner is working with NASA on a private mission to seek extraterrestrial life on Saturn's moon Enceladus

Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner is planning the first private mission in space – and NASA is helping him.

Milner hopes for life on Saturn's moon Enceladus, which is believed by many to be the most likely place in the universe to stem extraterrestrial life.

According to New Scientist, "Agreements signed by NASA and Milner's non-profit Breakthrough Starshot Foundation in September show that the organizations are working on scientific, technical and financial plans for the ambitious mission."

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Humanity's best hope of finding an alien life could be Saturn's moon Enceladus (pictured). Scientists say the icy celestial body is the only world in the solar system apart from the earth that contains all the ingredients needed for life. Now Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner is planning the first private mission in space to search for it.

Humanity's best hope of finding an alien life could be Saturn's moon Enceladus (pictured). Scientists say the icy celestial body is the only world in the solar system apart from the earth that contains all the ingredients needed for life. Now Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner is planning the first private mission in space to search for it.

WHAT WOULD LIVE WHEN ENCELADUS WILL APPEAR?

The types of life forms that could live on Enceladus would not be small green men – but they resembled microbes that live on Earth under extreme conditions – such as volcanic vents on the ocean floor.

The natural satellite pumps organic molecules – a precursor to microbial life – from its liquid underwater sea, as NASA probe measurements earlier this year showed.

NASA has provided over $ 70,000 to create a concept study for a Flyby mission and will use the money to provide staff.

Scientists say the icy celestial body is the only world in the solar system apart from the earth that contains all the ingredients needed for life.

The natural satellite pumps organic molecules – a precursor to microbial life – from its liquid underwater sea, as NASA probe measurements earlier this year showed.

The researchers said they were "blown away" from the study, adding that the findings could guide future searches for extraterrestrial life.

Breakthrough suggests another fly-by mission to test the clouds of the moon, but this time with equipment to detect extraterrestrial life.

The agreements make it clear that Breakthrough would guide and pay for the mission and have the sole authority to determine if it will be carried out.

Both NASA and the European Space Agency are currently considering whether to finance their own missions to Enceladus.

NASA's role in the Breakthrough mission will be to provide scientific and technical advice, including "expertise in the fields of astrobiology, planetary, life sciences and geosciences, and planetary protection."

The natural satellite pumps organic molecules out of its liquid underwater sea, as measured by a NASA probe. The molecules are ejected via surface nozzles and hydrothermal vents (artistic impression)

The natural satellite pumps organic molecules out of its liquid underwater sea, as measured by a NASA probe. The molecules are ejected via surface nozzles and hydrothermal vents (artistic impression)

Researchers have previously speculated about a next generation mission to the moon.

"The results are important for the next generation of exploration," said Dr. Christopher Glein, researcher at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

"A future spacecraft could fly through the Enceladus cloud and analyze these complex organic molecules with a high-resolution mass spectrometer to see how they were made.

WHO IS YURI MILNER?

In 2012, Milner founded the Breakthrough Prize - a series of international awards recognizing three areas: Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics

In 2012, Milner founded the Breakthrough Prize – a series of international awards recognizing three areas: Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics

Milner, a former physics PhD student in Moscow, who emigrated to the US in 1990, is one of the few technology magnates who spend time and money on space exploration.

Yuri Milner was born into a Jewish family in Moscow on November 11, 1961, and studied theoretical physics at the Moscow State University, graduating in 1985.

He began his professional career selling illegal DOS computers in the Soviet Union.

When the national government collapsed, he enrolled at the Wharton School of Business to earn an MBA.

His real success came through the creation of investment companies Digital Sky Technologies (DST) – now Mail.ru Group – and DST Global.

DST Global has invested in a number of key technology companies including Facebook, Spotify, Twitter and Alibaba.

In 2012, Milner founded the Breakthrough Prize – a series of international awards recognizing three areas: Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics.

The winners will each receive $ 3 million in prize money. Thus, the breakthrough prices are the largest scientific awards in the world.

Earlier this year, he collaborated with Stephen Hawking on the search for extraterrestrial life as part of the "Breakthrough Initiatives."

In the $ 100 million quest, telescopes will search one million of Earth's nearest stars for faint signals thrown into space by intelligent life beyond our own world.

As part of his long-term vision, Milner believes that the Internet will evolve into a "global brain" that will act as a kind of nervous system for the Earth.

"We have to be careful, but it's exciting to think that this finding indicates that the biological synthesis of organic molecules on Enceladus is possible."

Enceladus – 628 million miles from Earth – is extremely cold and has ice volcanoes on its cracked surface crust.

Scientists have long suspected that the moon has hosted aliens since the discovery of its subterranean ocean by the Cassini Nasa probe in 2015.

The moon regularly ejects jets of water and ice particles via hydrothermal vents from its global ocean.

The research team examined Cassini's readings of one of these flags.

The instruments on the probe made measurements inside the cloud and the Saturn E-ring, which is formed by the ice cloud escaping the gravity of Enceladus.

They found that complex, carbon-rich organic molecules are ejected from the cracks in the icy surface of Enceladus.

The molecules have masses over 200 atomic mass units – more than ten times heavier than methane.

WHAT IS ENCELADUS AND COULD IT ALIEN LIVE?

Enceladus (pictured) is the sixth largest moon of Saturn, 313 miles wide (504 kilometers).

Enceladus (pictured) is the sixth largest moon of Saturn, 313 miles wide (504 kilometers).

Enceladus is the sixth largest moon of Saturn, 313 miles (504 kilometers) wide.

It is an icy satellite with hydrothermal activity – a rare combination – with vents that spew out water vapor and ice particles from a world ocean buried under the frozen crust of the moon.

It is believed that a handful of worlds have liquid seas of water under their frozen shell, but only Enceladus spits its ocean into space, where a spaceship can taste it.

According to NASA observations, the cloud includes organic compounds, volatile gases, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, salts and silica.

Microbes on our planet either produce these compounds or use them for growth. Some speculate that tiny organisms live in the hidden ocean of Enceladus.

This means that Enceladus, like the other moons of Saturn, is "inhospitable", but it is a great candidate in our search for extraterrestrial life.

Scientists believe that chemical reactions between the rocky core of the moon and warm water from its subterranean ocean are related to these complex molecules.

"Complex organic molecules are not necessarily a habitable environment, but on the other hand, they are a necessary precursor to life. Frank Postberg from the University of Heidelberg, who led the research, to The Independent.

"Until now it was not known if complex organic chemistry was happening on Enceladus – and now we know it."

Liquid water, hydrogen gas and simple organic molecules – all important components of life – had previously been found on the Moon.

Scientists have long suspected Enceladus could harbor an extraterrestrial life since Nasas Cassini's probe discovered in 2015 that the icy body has an underground ocean. The impression of this artist shows the probe sailing through one of the hydrothermal clouds of Enceladus

Scientists have long suspected Enceladus could harbor an extraterrestrial life since Nasas Cassini's probe discovered in 2015 that the icy body has an underground ocean. The impression of this artist shows the probe sailing through one of the hydrothermal clouds of Enceladus

Researchers said the findings could guide future searches for extraterrestrial life, as organic molecules could be the precursors to foreign microbes. It suggests that the Moon's underground (the artist's impression) of the ocean is a prime target for future searches for extraterrestrial life

Researchers said the findings could guide future searches for extraterrestrial life, as organic molecules could be the precursors to foreign microbes. It suggests that the Moon's underground (the artist's impression) of the ocean is a prime target for future searches for extraterrestrial life

But the discovery of complex organic molecules, the precursor to the development of simple microbes, means that the moon now has everything to grow life.

"We will be overpowered by Enceladus again," said Dr. Mirror.

"We used to identify only the simplest organic molecules with few carbon atoms, but even that was very interesting."

"With complex organic molecules escaping from the liquid ocean waters, this moon is the only body besides Earth that is known to fulfill all the basic requirements for life as we know it."

During Cassini's close flyby of Enceladus in October 2015, the probe detected molecular hydrogen as the spacecraft flew through the cloud.

The moon regularly ejects jets of water and ice particles via hydrothermal vents from its global ocean. The research team carefully examined Cassini's readings of one of these feathers (impression of the artist).

The moon regularly ejects jets of water and ice particles via hydrothermal vents from its global ocean. The research team carefully examined Cassini's readings of one of these feathers (impression of the artist).

Earlier flyaways provided evidence for a global underwater area that is located above a rocky core.

It is believed that molecular hydrogen in the cloud is formed by the geochemical interaction between water and rocks in hydrothermal environments.

"Hydrogen is a source of chemical energy that supports microbes that live in the earth's oceans near hydrothermal vents," Dr. Hunter Waite, co-author of the study.

After identifying a potential food source for microbes, the next question to answer is, "What is the nature of complex organic substances in the ocean?"

"This paper is the first step in this understanding – complexity in organic chemistry that exceeds our expectations!"

The full results of the study were published in the journal Nature.

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