Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Titan - is there life on Saturn's moon

Artist's Image of Titan's methane lakes.

Titan is the largest of Saturn’s many moons and contains a very dense atmosphere. For some time now, it has been the cause of great excitement and speculation because Earth space probes have sent back a growing amount of data. Much of this has caused scientists to speculate that there is a strong possibility of strange, microscopic, organic-type life. Life that is not carbon based like we know of on Earth.

Instead of consuming oxygen, Titan’s micro life may ingest hydrogen or other types of gas and have the ability to survive in freezing temperatures of  –185 Celsius. Of course more exploration needs to be done but this moon, of the ringed gas giant, is generating a great deal of excitement because of her planet like atmosphere.

Titan was first discovered in 1655 by the Dutch astronomer, Christiaan Huygens and the European probe of 2005 was named after him – Huygens probe. This probe parachuted through Titan’s thick nitrogen atmosphere and landed on the moon’s surface. This is the most distant landing to date and Huygens probe sent data for ninety minutes before going off line.

In orbit was another probe called Cassini which photographed the physical geography of Titan at high altitude. There were many Ariel photos of cryovolcanoes – volcanoes that spewed molten ice and beds of Methane Rivers and lakes. The Cassini probe also received data from Huygens probe and relayed it back to Earth.


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