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'Possibility of life': scientists map Saturn's exotic moon Titan

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'Possibility of life': scientists map Saturn's exotic moon Titan

By Will Dunham

 

2019-11-18T211526Z_1_LYNXMPEFAH1OQ_RTROPTP_4_SPACE-TITAN.JPG

FILE PHOTO: This artist's concept envisions what hydrocarbon ice forming on a liquid hydrocarbon sea of Saturn's moon Titan might look like in this NASA image released on January 8, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS/Handout

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists on Monday unveiled the first global geological map of Saturn's moon Titan including vast plains and dunes of frozen organic material and lakes of liquid methane, illuminating an exotic world considered a strong candidate in the search for life beyond Earth.

 

The map was based on radar, infrared and other data collected by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which studied Saturn and its moons from 2004 to 2017.

 

Titan, with a diameter of 3,200 miles (5,150 km), is the solar system's second-biggest moon behind Jupiter's Ganymede. It is larger than the planet Mercury.

 

Organic materials - carbon-based compounds critical for fostering living organisms - play a leading role on Titan.

 

"Organics are very important for the possibility of life on Titan, which many of us think likely would have evolved in the liquid water ocean under Titan's icy crust," said planetary geologist Rosaly Lopes of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

 

"Organic materials can, we think, penetrate down to the liquid water ocean and this can provide nutrients necessary for life, if it evolved there," added Lopes, who led the research published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

 

On Earth, water rains down from clouds and fills rivers, lakes and oceans. On Titan, clouds spew hydrocarbons like methane and ethane - which are gases on Earth - in liquid form due to the moon's frigid climate.

 

Rainfall occurs everywhere on Titan, but the equatorial regions are drier than the poles, said study co-author Anezina Solomonidou, a European Space Agency research fellow.

 

Plains (covering 65% of the surface) and dunes (covering 17% of the surface) made up of frozen bits of methane and other hydrocarbons dominate Titan's mid-latitudes and equatorial regions, respectively.

 

Titan is the only solar system object other than Earth boasting stable liquids on the surface, with lakes and seas of full of methane being major features at its polar regions. Hilly and mountainous areas, thought to represent exposed portions of Titan's crust of water ice, represent 14% of the surface.

 

"What is really fun to think about is if there are any ways that those more complex organics can go down and mix with water in the deep icy crust or deep subsurface ocean," JPL scientist and study co-author Michael Malaska said.

 

Noting that on Earth there is a bacterium that can survive just on a hydrocarbon called acetylene and water, Malaska asked, "Could it or something like it live in Titan deep in the crust or ocean where temperatures are a little warmer?"

 

The map was created seven years before the U.S. space agency is set to launch its Dragonfly mission to dispatch a multi-rotor drone to study Titan's chemistry and suitability for life. Dragonfly is scheduled to reach Titan in 2034.

 

"It is not only scientifically important but also really cool - a drone flying around on Titan," Lopes said. "It will be really exciting."

 

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Tom Brown)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-11-19
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12 minutes ago, Samui Bodoh said:

The Drake equation is:

{\displaystyle N=R_{*}\cdot f_{\mathrm {p} }\cdot n_{\mathrm {e} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {l} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {i} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {c} }\cdot L}{\displaystyle N=R_{*}\cdot f_{\mathrm {p} }\cdot n_{\mathrm {e} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {l} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {i} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {c} }\cdot L}

where:

N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);

and

R = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space[5][6]

 

Now here's one I can't do in me 'ed!

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32 minutes ago, wgdanson said:

Now here's one I can't do in me 'ed!

... and if you try, it will do your 'ed' in ! 

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8 minutes ago, tifino said:

... and if you try, it will do your 'ed' in ! 

Must get one of them Thai calculators they all use to subtract Bht200 from Bht 500 !   LOL

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2 minutes ago, wgdanson said:

Must get one of them Thai calculators they all use to subtract Bht200 from Bht 500 !   LOL

You may need that, see how many headache tablets that that could buy you! 

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How can we be so dumb?
We continue to look for life on other planets as if the eight billion humans on earth were not enough for us!

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Total psudoscience, prove this using the scientific method?

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21 hours ago, webfact said:

many of us think likely would have evolved in the liquid water ocean under Titan's icy crust

 

21 hours ago, webfact said:

Rainfall occurs everywhere on Titan

Terms such as "water" and "rainfall" used in the context of describing Titan's environment are somewhat misleading as those terms are easily confused with the forms of "water" and "rainfall" on Earth. They are not really comparable chemically. 

Water and rainfall on Earth is H2O but on Titan it is generically CnHnr - a hydrocarbon. For example:

However, H2 and CO2 can be produced from liquid hydrocarbon. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ie049902p

Thence, perhaps extract O2 from CO2 and combine with H2 to produce H2O water that can be used to sustain human life on Titan?

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Kudzu, fire ants, killer bees, etc...   Please leave it where you found it when exploring the cosmos.

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