Thursday, July 27, 2017

A universal driver


Cassini's Grand Finale never ceases to amaze, this time with Titan and precursors to life totally unexpected in a place as cold and remote as Saturn's largest moon.

The international Cassini-Huygens mission has made a surprising detection of a molecule that is instrumental in the production of complex organics within the hazy atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan.

Titan boasts a thick nitrogen and methane atmosphere with some of the most complex chemistry seen in the Solar System. It is even thought to mimic the atmosphere of early Earth, before the build-up of oxygen. As such, Titan can be seen as a planet-scale laboratory that can be studied to understand the chemical reactions that may have led to life on Earth, and that could be occurring on planets around other stars.

Addendum: Another Titan surprise, this time regarding cellular membranes.

Nature finds a way, always.

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