Evidence hints at life on Saturn's moon Titan

  • Breaking
  • 04/06/2010

By Dan Satherley

David Bowie once sang about 'Life on Mars', but it's life on one of Saturn's moons that has scientists excited this week.

New measurements from the Cassini-Huygens space mission on Titan match predictions made in 2005, that the presence of microbial life living off hydrogen and acetylene would create a lack of the two substances near the surface of the planet.

New Scientist reports that measurements on Titan's surface show no trace of acetylene, despite the fact "ultraviolet sunlight should constantly trigger its production in the moon's thick atmosphere".

Hydrogen is also in low supply near the surface, despite its continual creation in the atmosphere via chemical reactions.

Methane, an expected byproduct of the potential lifeforms, is in good supply.

Though not conclusive, the evidence does suggest some form of life may be responsible.

Hydrogen can combine with carbon to make methane, but generally not at such a fast rate in the low temperatures that occur on Titan.

New Scientist also suggests acetylene could be converting into benzene, which was also detected, but again, Titan's extremely cold surface – minus 179.5degC – almost completely rules that out.

The Cassini-Huygens mission has been one of Nasa's most successful of the past decade.

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source: newshub archive