Titan: a window with a view of the origin of life on Earth




Outbreaks of events that have brought life on Earth more than 3.5 billion years ago, came from an unlikely place in the one and a half billion miles away. So says one of the leaders of the direction that tries to unravel the mysteries of the satellite of Saturn – Titan, one of the most unusual moons in our solar system.

Titan, the largest of dozens of Saturnian moons, allows us to understand the evolution of life as no more will understand nothing and nowhere. So says Jonathan Lunin, director of Radio Physics and Space Research at Cornell University:

“The data sent back to Earth during a space mission, allowed us to test the idea that underlies the understanding of the origin of life on Earth by modern science. We believe that the simplest organic chemicals present at a young earth, exposed to sunlight and other sources of energy, resulting in a more sophisticated material. At some point they crossed the threshold and found the ability to play your own. Can we test this theory in the laboratory? These processes continue on Titan is billions of years old. We do not have a billion years in the laboratory. We even thousands of years, no. ”

Lunin is among 260 scientists involved in the mission of the Cassini -Huygens mission, and believes that only two celestial object in the solar system have a lot of organic matter on the surface to provide scientists with the necessary information. This Titan and Earth.

Organic matter on Earth has passed through countless cycles. Titan’s organic materials, which include deposits of methane and other hydrocarbons, lie on the satellite in large quantities and are in perfect condition – and most importantly, never, as everyone knows, no contact with life.

Titan – the only moon in the solar system, with its atmosphere. As in the earth, a big part consists of nitrogen, but in the second place is methane. Sunlight has upper atmospheric layers Titan breaking the connection to the parts that interact with other elements, nitrogen, forming organic compound. They include ethane, acetylene, hydrogen cyanide and other compounds cyanoacetylene familiar to scientists from the planet Earth.

“We have a good set of what is stored in the atmosphere of Titan,” – says Lunin. – “But only recently have we begun to understand the fate of organic matter on the surface of the moon.”

Lunin explains, Mars has long been at the center of attention of the civil society and scientists as a possible location of Organic Chemistry and medium hint of life beyond Earth. And not just this: the planet similar to Earth and is relatively close to Earth. However, scientists have found only a very simple organic materials on the red planet.

Recent studies have led us to the idea that deep beneath the surface of Titan might be liquid water. Other data indicate that the seabed Titanium can be similar on the seabed in certain places in the world where there hydrothermal vents. These passes deep into the Earth are mineral-rich water, and she, in turn, the previously unknown organisms. Lunin also cites a study in which the identified potential landing site on Titan.

Through a joint program of NASA and ESA, scientists now know that Titan shares some surprising features of the Earth. Recall spacecraft NASA-ESA arrived at Saturn in 2004 after a seven-year journey through the solar system. Huge amounts of data sent to the 12 scientific instruments Cassini and Huygens have helped draw a complex map of Titan’s surface and dense atmosphere surrounding it. The rivers flow into the lake. Wind sweeps through the dunes. Giant storms circling the planet, and the clouds are floating through the misty sky.

The problem is that the titanium that is a half billion miles from the sun and a little more than our own Earth Moon, mostly frozen. He gets only one percent of that amount of sunlight that Earth receives. As a result, on Titan is extremely cold. 290 degrees Fahrenheit cold – it’s 160 degrees lower than the lowest temperature recorded in Antarctica. You may ask: what about the rivers and lakes? They consist of liquid hydrocarbons, ethane and methane, which in the world are the major components of natural gas. On Titan may be 10-100 times more oil and gas than on Earth for all evaluations.

By the way, not so long ago, scientists have found signs of water on another moon of Saturn.
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