Ice on Titanís Lakes: "May Host an Exotic Form of Life" says NASA/JPL
2013-01-09 0:00


A new paper by scientists on NASAís Cassini mission finds that blocks of hydrocarbon ice might decorate the surface of existing lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbon on Saturnís moon Titan. The presence of ice floes might explain some of the mixed readings Cassini has seen in the reflectivity of the surfaces of lakes on Titan.

"One of the most intriguing questions about these lakes and seas is whether they might host an exotic form of life," said Jonathan Lunine, a paper co-author and Cassini interdisciplinary Titan scientist at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. "And the formation of floating hydrocarbon ice will provide an opportunity for interesting chemistry along the boundary between liquid and solid, a boundary that may have been important in the origin of terrestrial life."

Titan is the only other body besides Earth in our solar system with stable bodies of liquid on its surface. But while our planetís cycle of precipitation and evaporation involves water, Titanís cycle involves hydrocarbons like ethane and methane. Ethane and methane are organic molecules, which scientists think can be building blocks for the more complex chemistry from which life arose. Cassini has seen a vast network of these hydrocarbon seas cover Titanís northern hemisphere, while a more sporadic set of lakes bejewels the southern hemisphere.

Scientists think the variations in reflectivity, or brightness, have to do with the smoothness or texture of the surface. If a lake is fully liquid, it looks dark, but if it is only partially liquid, it looks brighter.


Read the full article at:

Related Articles

Latest News from our Front Page

Is the countryside racist? Villages 'that want to remain white and middle class'
2015-11-24 20:31
Country dwellers believe rural communities should be the preserve of white middle-class families with conservative values, a survey claims. Many residents of countryside towns and villages consider them the 'last bastion' of old-fashioned English traditions. And they often equate this 'exclusively and unthinkingly' with white Englishness, a study has found. White gate: Are countryside villages, such as The Lee, in Buckinghamshire, racist for ...
More than 30 "White Student Union" pages created on Facebook in last week
2015-11-24 2:37
More than 30 ‚ÄúWhite Student Union‚ÄĚ pages have recently sprung up over the last several days on Facebook, pages that affiliate themselves with various universities around the nation The creation of an ‚ÄúIllini White Student Union‚ÄĚ Facebook page that surfaced Nov. 18 in response to a ‚ÄúBlack Student Solidarity Rally‚ÄĚ at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign gained national attention, but ...
Pew: White Christians no longer a majority
2015-11-24 1:56
A woman prays at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles during "A Night of Hope," an event hosted by Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen. | AP Photo White Christians now make up less than half of the U.S. population, largely receding from the majorities of most demographic groups, with one notable exception: the Republican Party. According to the latest results from Pew Research ...
Cinemas refuse to show Church of England advert featuring Lord's Prayer
2015-11-23 23:52
The UK’s three leading cinema chains have refused to show an advert by the Church of England that features the Lord’s Prayer, citing fears that it could offend people. Vociferous critic of religion says anyone thin-skinned enough to be offended by church advert deserves to be offended The 60-second advert was due to be shown before Star Wars: the Force Awakens, released ...
Free Ottawa yoga class scrapped over "cultural issues"
2015-11-23 23:24
Jennifer Scharf is a yoga instructor who had delivered a free class to students at the University of Ottawa for the past seven years that was cancelled this year due to a complaint that yoga constitutes "cultural appropriation." Errol McGihon/Ottawa SunStudent leaders have pulled the mat out from 60 University of Ottawa students, ending a free on-campus yoga class over ...
More News »