Analysis of data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has come back with some interesting results: two chemical signatures that suggest the possible existence of a hypothetical methane-based life form. Since the temperature on Titan’s surface is -290 °F, any life that could exist there wouldn’t be the water-based life we’re used to. In 2005 astrobiologist Chris McKay theorized the conditions necessary for methane-based life on Titan. The new data shows hydrogen and acetylene disappearing at the moon’s surface, and two of the theorized processes for methane-based life are that it could use hydrogen as we use oxygen and use a hydrocarbon that’s liquid at -290 °F (such as acetylene) as a liquid medium as we use water.
“Scientific conservatism suggests that a biological explanation should be the last choice after all non-biological explanations are addressed,” [Mark] Allen said. “We have a lot of work to do to rule out possible non-biological explanations. It is more likely that a chemical process, without biology, can explain these results – for example, reactions involving mineral catalysts.” [NASA]
So Titan may have methane-based life; nothing conclusive yet. Other things Titan may have: strip clubs, sweet roller coasters, space dinosaurs, herpes, space herpes, space dinosaurs with space herpes, and space dinosaurs riding on sweet roller coasters.
[via Ars Technica]