Saturn's Moon May Have Life Unlike Anything On Earth

A group of esteemed scientists have claimed that on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, life far from what we know here on Earth, may exist. Whereas water is the requirement for all life here, this may not be the case on Titan, one of Saturn's 62 confirmed moons. What makes Titan unusual is that it has an atmosphere, which is rare for a planet's natural satellite. Within this atmosphere is a chemical known as hydrogen cyanide (HCN) which would be extremely poisonous to humans. However, a study from experts at Cornell University has led to the conclusion that a series of chemical reactions may help breed life on Titan. Prior studies have released that with HCN, long chemical reactions, or polymers, can occur, one of which being Polyimine. The team at the US university have now used computer models and analyzed data from NASA's Cassini and Huygens missions and concluded that under Titan's harsh freezing cold conditions, which is an average of -179.2C, Polyimine has the ability to absorb energy from the Sun and act as a springboard for life. Lead author, Martin Rahm, postdoctoral researcher in chemistry at Cornell University, said "It turns out, different conformations of this material absorb different wavelengths of light, including wavelengths that are accessible on the surface of Titan." This could provide energy. We are used to our own conditions here on Earth, our scientific experience is at room temperature and ambient conditions. Titan is a completely different beast. "So if we think in biological terms, we're probably going to be at a dead end." However, there are similarities between Earth and Titan:

Image result for saturns moon titan
  • Both have lakes, rivers, and seas as a result.
  • Both have rain which affects the geology of the planet, although Titan's lakes are made up of liquid methane and ethane.  
While the team are uncertain as to whether Titan does host life, they believe that this study is a strong starting point in humanity's search for life elsewhere in the Universe.

Mr. Rahm added: "This is a starting point, as we are looking for prebiotic chemistry in conditions other than Earth's." "We need to continue to examine this, to understand how the chemistry evolves over time. We see this as a preparation for further exploration."

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