Data on Saturn's moon sheds light on life

08:27, June 09, 2010      

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Two moons of the planet Saturn, the brightest body in the solar system, Enceladus, is contrasted here against Titan's smoggy, golden murk in this photograph taken by the Cassini spacecrafts narrow angle camera February 5, 2006 and released by NASA June 21, 2006. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
The chemical data returned by NASA's Cassini spacecraft shed light on the possibility of life on Saturn's moon Titan although scientists caution that extraterrestrials hyped up by some media might have nothing to do with these findings, according to the report of Space.com.

One study showed that hydrogen was flowing down through Titan's atmosphere and disappearing at the surface, which scientist guessed that could be a tantalizing hint that hydrogen is getting consumed by life.

Another study found a lack of acetylene on Titan's surface, a compound that could be consumed as food by life that relies on liquid methane instead of liquid water to live.

"Both results are still preliminary," said Astrobiologist Chris McKay at NASA's Ames Research Center.

On Titan, any organisms would have to use a liquid substance as its medium for living processes. However water itself cannot do, since it is frozen solid on Titan's surface, where temperatures are around minus-290 degrees Fahrenheit (-179 degrees Celsius).

Few liquids, such as liquid methane and related molecules, can be used as medium.

Previous studies have found Titan to have lakes of liquid methane.

To date, methane-based life forms are only speculative.

Source: Xinhua/Agencies


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