יום ראשון, 6 ביוני 2010

Space news: Are there life on Titan ? (saturn's largest moon)

Analysis of data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft regarding the chemical activity on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan, suggest a very interesting revelation. 
The analysis, coming from two new papers, show that -
  • although hydrogen flows down through the atmosphere of Titan, it disappears near the surface;
  • there is a lack of acetylene - a hydrocarbon which is used on earth as a fuel and a chemical building block - at the surface of Titan, compared ot other hydrocarbons. 
 Although there is a possible non-biological but chemistry-basedexplanation, 'some scientists believe these chemical signatures bolster the argument for a primitive, exotic form of life or precursor to life on Titan's surface. According to one theory put forth by astrobiologists, the signatures fulfill two important conditions necessary for a hypothesized "methane-based life." '

In short, there is a possibility, though still one possible explanation, and further research is required, that some really exotic lifeform is having Hydrogen and Acetylene for lunch(*) on Titan !



Definitely worth the time reading, in my mind. If true, this might be one of the most important scientific discoveries ever, in so many ways.

(*) lunch is ofcourse a metaphore here. as it is a hypothetical methane based lifeform, it might just as well might be breathing it, diffusing it, or consuming it in some other authentic way of its own...

(**) originaly, I enjoyed another nassa discovery, regarding a 500 meters long asteroid hitting jupiter
       several months ago, but we-might-have-spotted-life-out-there is definitely more interesting (:











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