Saturn's moon Titan might support life even without water
Jul 26, 2016
Liquid water is a requirement for life on Earth. But on Saturn’s largest moon Titan, life might exist beyond the bounds of water-based chemistry, according to a new study by scientists at Cornell University.
On what basis this claim:
- The researchers look at the presence of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) in the planet’s atmosphere and speculate that it could become a possible prebiotic chemical key, Xinhua reported.
- Prior studies indicated that on Titan’s surface, HCN can react to form long chains, or polymers, one of which called polyimine.
- Using computer models and data collected by the NASA’s Cassini and Huygens mission, researchers have revealed that under Titan-like cold environmental conditions, polyimine is flexible and can absorb the sun’s energy and become a possible catalyst for life.
- Titan is Saturn's largest moon and the second largest in the solar system (after Ganymede of Jupiter).
- It is the only moon in the solar system with clouds and a dense, planet-like atmosphere.
- Titan is the sixth ellipsoidal moon from Saturn.
- Titan is primarily composed of water ice and rocky material. Much as with Venus before the Space Age
- Titan and Earth have important traits in common.
- Despite its seemingly inhospitable climate, Titan features terrain with Earth-like attributes such as lakes, rivers and seas. These liquids fall as rain and affect geology through erosion.
- The moon was discovered by Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens in 1655.
- The Huygens lander probe sent to the moon aboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft by the European Space Agency is named in his honor.
- Huygens was the first human-built object to land on Titan's surface.
- Titan's mass is composed mainly of water in the form of ice and rocky material.
- Titan has no magnetic field.