Life on Titan could be smelly and Explosive
No replies to this topic
Posted 13 April 2010 - 02:56 PM
Could there be life on Titan? If so, one astrobiologist says humans probably couldn't be in the same room with a Titanian and live to tell about it. "Hollywood would have problems with these aliens" said Dr. William Bains. "Beam one onto the Starship Enterprise and it would boil and then burst into flames, and the fumes would kill everyone in range. Even a tiny whiff of its breath would smell unbelievably horrible. But I think it is all the more interesting for that reason. Wouldn't it be sad if the most alien things we found in the galaxy were just like us, but blue and with tails?"
While giving an obvious nod to the recent movie "Avatar," Bains' research provides insight to the difficulties we might encounter – beyond cultural – if we ever meet up with alien life. There could be unintended harmful consequences for one species, or both.
Bains is working to find out just how extreme the chemistry of life can be. Life on Titan, Saturn's largest moon, represents one of the more bizarre scenarios being studied. While images sent back by the Cassini/Huygens mission might make Titan look Earth-like and maybe even inviting, it has a thick atmosphere of frozen, orange smog. At ten times our distance from the Sun, it is a frigid place, with a surface temperature of -180 degrees Celsius. Water is permanently frozen into ice and the only liquid available is liquid methane and ethane.
So instead of water based-life (like us), life on Titan would likely be based on methane.
“Life needs a liquid; even the driest desert plant on Earth needs water for its metabolism to work. So, if life were to exist on Titan, it must have blood based on liquid methane, not water. That means its whole chemistry is radically different. The molecules must be made of a wider variety of elements than we use, but put together in smaller molecules. It would also be much more chemically reactive,” said Bains.
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users