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SCI/TECH: Cassini Detects Complex Organic Chemicals

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posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 10:21 AM
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During it's latest, and arguably most telling flyby of Titan yet, on the 16th of April, the Cassini space probe has detected a "huge number" of complex organic chemicals in the atmosphere of Saturn's gigantic, and intriguing moon. The probe flew within 1000km of Titan's surface, and captured gasses from the upper atmosphere, which were analysed and found to contain a very broad range of hydrocarbons - the chemical building blocks of organic matter.
 



saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
During its closest flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on April 16, the Cassini spacecraft came within 1,027 kilometers (638 miles) of the moon's surface and found that the outer layer of the thick, hazy atmosphere is brimming with complex hydrocarbons.

Scientists believe that Titan's atmosphere may be a laboratory for studying the organic chemistry that preceded life and provided the building blocks for life on Earth. The role of the upper atmosphere in this organic "factory" of hydrocarbons is very intriguing to scientists, especially given the large number of different hydrocarbons detected by Cassini during the flyby.




Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


While this latest finding does not provide evidence for life on Titan, or other such fanciful notions, it does provide us with an excellent glimpse of the mechanisms and conditions that give rise to organic matter, and eventually to life itself.

Titan's "Hydrocarbon Factory" atmosphere, through further analysis from the Cassini probe, could act as a living laboratory, giving us a much greater understanding of the processes that initiated life on Earth.

Related News Links:
saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
www.newscientist.com




posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 10:31 AM
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This is a very important discovery. Great find Paul
Im curious as to what this means for life below the surface there. Can these organic molocules actually penetrate the ice layer there and possibly be evolving into some type of cellular life form as we speak?



posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 11:05 AM
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Very interesting!! This is very intriguing, since organic materials doesnt appear in nature for no reason!



posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 11:07 AM
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This definitly proofs that life isn't as uncommon as we once thought


Mars, Titan and Possibly Europa all have possibilities that there is life, and ofcourse, Earth already has



posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 11:49 AM
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It has the required build blocks for life except one very important one, heat. Titan is too far away from the Sun to sustain life as we know it.



posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 12:48 PM
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The next thing we should be looking for is lipids and parrifins as these are what are theoirised to be the precursors of cell walls, Lipids are oily and create miscroscopic enclosed "oil bubbles" which act as membrains for enclosed chemical reactions ,pre-biotic proto-cells if you will.If we find these we surely have a case for a potential place to study the origins of life or even keep a tab on it as it happens.

Very exciting

Merkz out



posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 01:05 PM
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Very interesting


It seems that atoms rush to form building blocks of organic matter even if there is only a hint of possible conditions for life.
Life seems to be the essence of universe, one of its directions.

I wonder if the same applies to evolution. If conditions are right and life is actually created, does it evolve into more complex forms?

Man, I wish we had the technology to travel to other planets outside of our solar system...



posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 01:10 PM
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Great discovery. Very interesting find considering how many believe life beyond earth is non-existant. And NASA is still focusing on carbon based life. I'm interested in their non-terran ideas; a side of the 'possibility of life beyond earth' that is completely overlooked.



posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 08:36 PM
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.
I have pretty much always been comfortable about evolution, but had some reservations about life starting from non-living matter. This seems to favor the accrual of larger organic molecules and while not a smoking gun, does make it a little easier for life's very long organic molecules to start forming.

I still wonder about space spore of life (seeding from other planets), it means life only had to start once in a galaxy to spread across it.

Perhaps long organic polymer molecules last longer in an anaerobic, non/low bacterial environment. After all it is life and oxydation, here on earth, that biodegrades everything.
.



posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 09:34 PM
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Stanley Miller's experiment was fantastic, but it's one major problem was how contrived it was. It's great to have an actual place like primordial Earth to study purely.



posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 10:01 PM
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This is REALLY reaching into the far far distance, but IF by some miracle in a few million years we're still around (yeah ok, stop ya laughing hehe) and this "primordial earth" starts to give life to multicelled creatures and possibly intelligent life, could we then not become the "aliens" these new lifeforms will start drawing on their cave paintings, in art, later on in photographs and video footage... see what I'm getting at here?



posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 10:13 PM
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Well, as stated above, it's way too cold out there, just too far from the Sun. But, if you ignore facts, then yeah, sure. I don't quite see the point, though...



posted on Apr, 27 2005 @ 06:51 AM
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Originally posted by subz
It has the required build blocks for life except one very important one, heat. Titan is too far away from the Sun to sustain life as we know it.

That's never made sense to me. Boil things to sterilize them. Freeze them to preserve them. Timescales might be much more prolonged to what we are used to but I bet eventually life is found in unexpected "cold" areas, in forms we might not expect, where heat has not disrupted things.



posted on Apr, 27 2005 @ 11:16 AM
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These findings give us a lot of further questions to ask, and exploration to do. While I agree that it would be unwise to assume that the presence organic hydrocarbons in the atmosphere was a sure indication of life on the surface, it certainly raises curiosity as to what is actually down there.

Common sense would say that the moon is way too cold, and devoid of sunlight to support life, but we have examples here on earth of organisms such as thermophiles, thriving in what we would deem to be completely inhospitable environments.

In all probability, there is unlikely any life on Titan, but the possibilities are interesting and worthy of discussion all the same.



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