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I Ammonia in icy moons of gas giants

  1. Aug 17, 2017 #1
    Its generally a established that ammonia is present under the ice of many moons of gas giants. I guess many in the astronomy/astrobiologists community don't spend much time at home, as they would have noticed that ammonia is a household disinfectant. I understand we don't have any idea of the concentration it would be under the ices of various moons, but i wonder, am i the only one to notice this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2017 #2


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    You're probably referring to the search of extraterrestrial life on icy moons, and think that presence of ammonia must mean its futile because it'd sterilise the environment.
    However, ammonia is also a precursor for amino acids and synthesis of nucleotides, and as such is essential for life.

    The old Paracelcus' adage applies: the dose makes the poison.

    Measurements of Enceladus' plume composition conducted by Cassini indicate approx 0.8% ammonia concentration (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v460/n7254/full/nature08153.html?foxtrotcallback=true). Which while toxic to most large terrestrial animals, is tolerable to some species of bacteria. It is hardly a stretch to expect possible life evolved in those conditions to develop even more robust tolerance.

    As a side note, I'm certain astrobiologists learn all about basic and not so basic chemistry in class.
  4. Aug 31, 2017 #3

    stefan r

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    The colonists could say that it was pissing outside without using figure of speech.
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