Potential for Life on Titan

A Satellite orbiting Saturn and its moon Titan

Saturn’s Largest Moon, Titan has a remarkably Earthlike typography. Besides Earth, Titan appears to be the only other place in our solar system whose surface is shaped by lakes, rivers, seas, even rainfall.  Its not water however on the surface, its Methane and Ethane.

Despite the lack of water, scientists believe there is still the potential for prebiotic life, requiring us to think outside the blue green box of earth based biology. Instead of our room temperature, conditions in order for life to exist on Titan it would need to occur at extremely low temperatures. Luckily it’s dense atmosphere is teeming with nitrogen and methane. When the sun hits this mixture the reaction produces hydrogen cyanide, and gives the prebiotic chemical key.

The organic chemical hydrogen cyanide can react with itself or with other molecules, forming polymers one of which is called polymine. "Polyimine can exist as different structures, and they may be able to accomplish remarkable things at low temperatures, especially under Titan's conditions," said Martin Rahm, postdoctoral researcher in chemistry and lead author of the new study, released in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We need to continue to examine this, to understand how the chemistry evolves over time. We see this as a preparation for further exploration. If future observations could show there is prebiotic chemistry in a place like Titan, it would be a major breakthrough.” ," said Rahm.

“This paper is indicating that prerequisites for processes leading to a different kind of life could exist on Titan, but this only the first step."

You can read more about the findings here.