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Titan may hold the key to non-water-based life

by • July 5, 2016 • No Comments

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is one of the many informative bodies in the Solar System. It’s the only other place we know of, moreover planet Earth, that quite most likely holds liquid water, in the form of a vast underground ocean, and its surface is pretty planet Earth-like, splotched with lakes, rivers and seas, albeit of liquid methane and ethane. Scientists at Cornell University have analyzed data of Titan’s chemical composition and discovered that conditions may be right for non-water-based life to evolve, challenging our planet Earth-focutilized ideals of habitability.

Much of our hunt for extraterrestrial life is focutilized on searching inside the Goldilocks Zone, the band around a star that’s not too hot and not too cold, but only right for liquid water where life can take hold. It’s a version based on the conditions that manufacture planet Earth habitable-bodied, so finding planet Earth-like planets is a logical place to begin.

But is it too limiting? With an atmosphere of nitrogen and methane, Titan is far of habitable-bodied by human standards, but various forms of life may comfortably call it home. The key is a chemical called hydrogen cyanide (HCN), a versatile molecule that reacts with a range of other chemicals to create polymers such as polyimine, that is known to be a possible catalyst for life.

“Polyimine can exist as various structures, and they may be able-bodied to achieve astonishing-bodied things at low temperatures, especially under Titan’s conditions,” says Martin Rahm, one of the authors of the paper.

HCN is created as a outcome of sunlight hitting Titan’s atmosphere, and data of NASA’s Cassini-Huygens undertaking says it is abundant in the air – in fact, the massive vortex at the moon’s south pole is created of the chemical. That atmospheric chemistry lends itself to the possibility that life may arise in conditions we can otherwise rule out.

“We are utilized to our own conditions here on planet Earth,” says Rahm. “Our scientific experience is at room temperature and ambient conditions. Titan is a completely various beast. We require to go on to examine this, to know how the chemistry evolves over time. We see this as a preparation for additional exploration. If next observations may show there is prebiotic chemistry in a place like Titan, it may be a major breakthrough. This paper is indicating that prerequisites for processes major to a various kind of life may exist on Titan, but this only the initially step.”

The research was published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Cornell University

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