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By Jason Snell for Yahoo
If it sounded like science fiction, that’s because it was.
Back in 1982, writer Arthur C. Clarke — famous for predicting the communications satellite, among other technologies — published a sequel to “2001”³ featuring a Chinese spacecraft that landed on one of Jupiter’s moons and encountered alien life from an ocean deep beneath the moon’s icy shell.
Then last week came news that the Cassini spacecraft had grazed within 30 miles of the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, flying through a giant plume of ice and other material that had previously resided deep inside the moon. Among other things, Cassini was searching for molecular evidence that Enceladus’s ocean has hydrothermal vents and a rocky seafloor.
The premise of Clarke’s story has become increasingly realistic over the last 30 years, as it’s become clear that the most likely places in the solar system to find life aren’t on Mars or any other planet, but beneath the surfaces of icy moons out in the far reaches of the solar system.