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Methane on Titan

  1. Jul 4, 2004 #1
    From;
    http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/...a/images/titan/images/PIA06404.jpg&type=image
    “A bright cloud of methane particles is apparent in all three images near the south pole. It's persistence over an extensive range of colors indicates that these cloud particles are large compared to the typical haze particles surrounding the planet, suggesting a dynamically active atmosphere near the South Pole.”

    Life in our little Star System seems to be getting more common...
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 4, 2004 #2
    I dought life is getting anymore common. Simply because certain bacterial life on Earth can live in those environments doesn't mean it can "arise" there. Just because camels live in the desert doesn't mean animal life forms will be on a completely desert planet.
     
  4. Jul 5, 2004 #3

    marcus

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    Entropy that is a very sensible comment and I agree
    the notion that methane on titan is a sign of life is thoroughly mistaken

    the point about mars is that a planets chemistry is either reducing or oxidizing
    mars surface chem is oxidizing
    therefore a methane molecule has a comparatively brief existence
    therefore if methane is found on mars then it must have been produced
    in geologically recent time (vented by a volcano or produced by an organism or by some yet-unexplained process we dont know)

    but titan has a reducing chemistry
    so whatever methane it started with is permanent
    so there can be primordial methane from the very beginning of the
    solarsystem
    it lasts essentially forever on titan
    so there is no implication that any process is producing methane there

    to say that methane on titan is a life-sign is as wrong-headed as saying
    that because Jupiter is mostly hydrogen gas there must be life on Jupiter
    making hydrogen!
     
  5. Jul 5, 2004 #4

    Chronos

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    Methane is a precurser, not a result of life as we know it. The temperatures at the outer planets are too low to promote self replicating molecules. We are kind of straying from the cosmological issues in this thread.
     
  6. Jul 5, 2004 #5
    Gas Giants ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT to Solid Moons/Planets

    Posted by marcus;
    "to say that methane on titan is a life-sign is as wrong-headed as saying
    that because Jupiter is mostly hydrogen gas there must be life on Jupiter
    making hydrogen!"

    No its NOT!
    Bloody hell.
    Jupiter is a GAS GIANT!
    Titan is a solid, terrestrial moon/planet.

    Straying away from the cosmological issues?????
    Methane (and it's origin) would have to be the HOTTEST cosmological topic of the moment!
    Sheesssshh...
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2004
  7. Jul 5, 2004 #6

    Chronos

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    first time i ever disagreed with you, marcus. there are many explanations for the chemistry of this solar system.
     
  8. Jul 5, 2004 #7

    Chronos

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    theory.. marcus is a graduate student with a gift. his posts are very insightful and usually right on the mark. I look forward to his papers.
     
  9. Jul 5, 2004 #8
    der, it's been well known for a long time that Titan is loaded with methane/ethane
    i mean there's oceans of the stuff.

    methan is both a precusor to organic materials which are a precusor to life, and methane is also a product of some types of metabolism
     
  10. Jul 6, 2004 #9

    Phobos

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    Methane is not only produced by life and therefore, detecting methane is not an automatic indicator of life. Little is known about the surface of Titan and it's a huge leap to conclude that life is/was there. But rest assured that Titan will be a big subject of study during the Cassini mission. I'm certainly excited about the Huygens drop in December/January.
     
  11. Jul 6, 2004 #10
    hmm, got the email, re-read what i wrote

    i didn't mean to imply that any methane found in the solar system should be interpreted as any kind of indication that life is or was present, i was randomly responding to what folks above had posted

    ANYWAY
     
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