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Methane Ice and Titan

  1. Feb 20, 2010 #1
    Hello! I am an undergrad at the University of Calgary. Lately I have been reading about Saturn's satellite Titan and all of the new data from the Cassini orbiter and the Huygens probe. Ever since 6th grade when I did a school project on Titan it has been blasting my mind. A moon with an atmosphere thicker than Earth! Now, the latest findings are that Titan has methane in all phases, the pictures of it's surface indicate precipitation, and there are large bodies of hydrocarbons around the north pole.

    With this in mind, I was considering the development of biology on Titan. This was because it's atmosphere was found to contain complex hydrocarbon molecules, some of which have atomic weights greater than 2000u. I am inclined to hypothesize about simple biology in the upper reaches of Titan's atmosphere, perhaps arising in a manner similar to plankton in Earth's oceans.

    Furthermore, biological life on a world such as Titan requires methane dependance, resistance to cold temperatures and survivability in long periods without sunlight. Curiously enough a cantidate lives on our own planet. Hesiocaeca methanicola, or Methane Ice Worms, are a shocking and interesting organism that meets the criteria for Titan. Now it would be quite a streach to propose that the worms actually exist on Titan, but the fact that these worms exist at all is evidence of biodiversity in the universe.
    Well that was quite a rant, but this has been on my mind for some time, and I would be interested to know what some peers think.
    Thank you
  2. jcsd
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