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Friday, April 26, 2013

Saturn’s moon Titan is drying out, but there is plenty of time left to study its origions of life

The bad news from NASA is that the liquid ponds, lakes and seas on Saturn’s moon Titan are slowly drying up—the little moon with its big atmosphere is dying. But the good news it will be tens of millions of years before all that liquid actually dries out.

Yahoo News reported “Today, methane sloshes around in pools on the surface of Titan, but the hydrocarbon may eventually vanish from Saturn's giant moon, according to a new study….
Besides Earth, Titan is the only known place in our solar system to have stable liquids on its surface. The huge moon's clouds, lakes and rain are made up of hydrocarbons, or molecules composed of hydrogen and carbon, such as methane and ethane.”

In the short run we have plenty of time to study these pools and see what kind of organic or life-like microbes might be found in those liquids. In the long run, the moon will probably die out and dry out, much as Mars has over the last 3 billion years.
Scientists believe the moon resembles the Earth as it looked a few billion years ago. The atmosphere is believed to be similar to that of early Earth. Because of its cold temperatures, about −179.5 °C or −290 °F, the little moon has remained stuck in time.
Because there is liquid on parts of the surface—hydrocarbons, or molecules composed of hydrogen and carbon, such as methane and ethane—scientists believe the process for building large organic molecules may be possible. Even if there are no actual cellular life forms the moon's chemistry could produce prebiotic molecules, complex organic compounds that are believed to have marked an early step in the emergence of life on Earth.
We still have time to study life or its origins when we send rockets and probes to Titan. We can better study the evolution of life here on Earth as well as in outer space.  We are lucky to have such heavenly bodies as Titan and Mars and we can more easily prove that life is a process that can be found throughout the universe, rather than the religious-right view that God created life special just of humans on Earth. That right-wing idealist-philosophy makes no real sense and the study of Mars, Titan and other such near-Earth-like bodies in this Solar System will disprove such backward ideas.
We are also realizing that Titan and other heavenly bodies are not just boring dead rocks. They are vibrant, colorful worlds full of beauty and wonder.
-សតិវ អតុ
For more information click here.
Artist’s concept of Titan’s surface.

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