Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Possible Signs Of Life On Titan

I'm convinced we'll find life elsewhere in our solar system, even in extreme environments like Saturn's moon Titan.
Separate peer-reviewed papers, published online this week in the journal Icarus and the Journal of Geophysical Research, found chemical processes in the atmosphere and on the surface of Titan that could be explained by an extreme form of methane-based life. This surface life would “eat” the hydrogen that was found by one of the studies to be raining down from the moon’s dense atmosphere, which is even thicker than Earth’s.
Meanwhile, other observations of Titan by instruments aboard the Cassini spacecraft found a distinct lack of hydrogen on the surface, suggesting that it is being transformed or consumed by some unknown process that could be either physical or biological.
“It’s as if you have a hose and you’re squirting hydrogen onto the ground, but it’s disappearing,” said Darrell Strobel, a Cassini interdisciplinary scientist based at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., who authored the paper on the hydrogen flow in the atmosphere.

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