Something is consuming hydrogen and organic molecules on Saturn's moon Titan.

...snip..

New data from the Cassini spacecraft show hydrogen is disappearing near Titan's surface. What's more, scientists have not been able to find acetylene, an organic molecule that should be pretty abundant in the moon's thick atmosphere.

...NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay, proposed five years ago that microbial life on Titan could breathe hydrogen and eat acetylene, producing methane as a result.

Scientists emphasize that the findings are not proof of life, and there's plenty of work to do before non-biological causes can be ruled out. Scientific conservatism suggests that a biological explanation should be the last choice after all non-biological explanations are addressed.

What is being observed is hydrogen is disappearing at the surface of the moon and the molecule acetylene appears to be absent when it should be abundant. Further, methane is being produced at the surface. It's possible hydrogen is combining with carbon on the surface to produce methane. But Titan is too cold for that to happen quickly enough to account for all the missing hydrogen.

 

C2H2 + 3H2 ---> 2CH4 + energy

acetylene + hydrogen → methane + energy

Cassini will be making several more flybys of the moon and will collect more data, but for now, there is no conclusion on the mechanisms involved in the phenomenon.

Views: 35

Replies to This Discussion

I just read this on my news feed...quite exciting! I'm sure the chemists will be working overtime to show it is just chemistry, but either way we are about to learn something new and interesting.

Here's hoping for some Titan lifeforms.

I'm going to put this up on Atheist News, hopefully that is okay. I'll put a link to this discussion as well.
Feel free. It's a reasonable speculation that it's a life form - that or some strange chemistry. I also hope it's a life form.
Thanks for posting here, Jim.

I liked the final paragraph too:

" -- in fact, the craft is set to fly within 2,000 miles of Titan's surface this afternoon, to make infrared scans of the moon's north polar region. The region includes Kraken Mare, the largest lake on Titan, which covers a greater area than the Caspian Sea on Earth. If methane-based microbes do live on Titan, there's a good chance they would live in just those sort of lakes."
? It is a nice thought, but we don't really know that.
Ah, okay.
Any chance of showing us some of this 'proof'?
You know I as much as anyone "believe" that life is common and not a rare thing in the universe at large. It is one of the few unsubstantiated beliefs I have. However I am aware that it is simply a belief, until real evidence comes along.
I reason and think that you are right.
Thank you for that statement Phil it much better suits what I actually think.

I do think life is out there because more and more it seems that the basic building blocks are common in the universe.

I do not think that what happened here is a one off event.
I don't believe that life exist elsewhere but I am convinced that it is more that likely that it does.
I'm skeptical about my lack of belief that life exists elsewhere.
JayBarti said: "Thank you for that statement Phil it much better suits what I actually think. I do think life is out there because more and more it seems that the basic building blocks are common in the universe. I do not think that what happened here is a one off event."

Given the immensity of the numbers involved, statistics is enough to convince us that some sort of life might be common enough across the Universe; but what happened here, insofar as the present result is concerned, viz. humanity, is likely to be unique in the true sense of the word unique.

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

 

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service