Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Life on Titan

Sensors show life signs on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. We should beam down to the surface and try to establish contact. Phasers on stun.

In the real world signs of life don't necessarily mean life, but the data are intriguing. In 2005 a NASA scientist speculated that microbial methanogenic life could exist on the oxygen poor moon. These critters would breath in hydrogen, consume acetylene, and excrete methane. Now comes the Cassini space probe showing us that there is less hydrogen and acetylene at the satellite's surface than there should be. It's almost as if there is something down there that is consuming it. Whoa.

Have we really found evidence of extra-terrestrial life? Maybe, maybe not, but it will be a long time before we can be sure. NASA isn't funded for anything beyond low-earth orbit anymore, so the universe will just have to wait.

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