Titan, the biggest moon around Saturn, seems like a suitable place to support alien life. Cornell University researchers have done the first step in discovering how that environment might be home to the chemical that forms primary life. However, lead author Martin Rahm noted that one must be open minded and think beyond traditional biology because Titan’s structure is very different from Earth and that makes it unlikely to support life as we know it.
Until now, scientists only saw Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa as prime candidates for other-worldly life, but Titan is now a target for researchers due to the presence of hydrogen cyanide in its atmosphere, which might have the potential to produce “prebiotic chemistry.”
Hydrogen cyanide can form polyamine, which is capable of developing into unusual forms in Titan’s conditions, according to the paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Rahm pointed out that polyamine chains could trigger the emergence of life by absorbing the solar energy.
“We are used to our own conditions here on Earth,” Rahm said in a statement, according to Fox News. “Our scientific experience is at room temperature and ambient conditions. Titan is a completely different beast.”
He continued to say that his research team needed to keep examining the way chemistry evolves over time and firmly stated that his investigation was “ preparation for further exploration.” The study was supported by the National Science Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation.
The Earth also emerged from primary conditions
Life on Earth exists because of a unique chemical evolution that started before water and oxygen became so abundant. The Earth as we know it today was formed by biological systems which reinforced several chemical cycles and that leads scientists to hope such a significant evolution might also take place away from our planet.
“This paper is a starting point, as we are looking for prebiotic chemistry in conditions other than Earth’s,” explained Rahm, who a is a postdoctoral researcher in chemistry at Cornell University, according to a press release published on the university’s website.
Rahm’s team might be near to discover a breakthrough if future research shows there is prebiotic chemistry in Titan. He said these study findings were a clear indication of prerequisites for processes that could end up showing there is a different kind of life on Saturn’s biggest moon.
The lead study author, who won the 1981 Novel Prize in chemistry and Cornell’s Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters Emeritus, works in the lab of Roald Hoffman, who was consulted by this research team.
Titan is freezing and it has liquid methane and ethane instead of water on its surface. Its atmosphere is filled with methane and hydrogen. There could be a subsurface ocean made up of ammonia and water on that moon, which is 3200 miles across.
Source: Fox News