|The mystery 'island' on Titan|
Recent news of complex, possibly life - capable molecules in the upper atmosphere of Titan got me a little excited.
Putting two and two together, and making five, I remembered a brief flurry of interest when images emerged of a vanishing something in the hydro-carbon sea of Ligeia Mare.
This was made even more intriguing by a documentary* about Titan which , in the final moments (start viewing at approx 35.24), examines micro-organisms thriving in Pitch Lake in Trinidad , the closest thing on Earth to the hydrocarbon / methane lakes of Titan (minus the below- freezing temperatures).
In the film,Dr Sarah Hörst replicates the conditions of the Titan atmosphere, successfully creating four major components of DNA, and a Dr McKay postures that life in such a nutrient - poor environment may take the form of a large, thin mat, maximising surface area...
Another anomaly on Titan is the cloud which shouldn't exist ( by our understanding, anyway)
These discoveries, and many more, were made by Cassini, the intrepid little probe that's been examining the Saturn system for twenty years ( and makes its final swan dive through the rings of Saturn next month).
|The 'impossible cloud' , Titan image NASA/ JPL|
It remains our furthest landing on a planet in the solar system to this day.
Okay, there was the comet too, but that was just passing through, right ?
We are now agog at the wonders of Enceladus and Europa , both of which appear to contain large amounts of water, and great potential for life - or at least pre-biotic** conditions
Regardless of the possible existence of strange hydro-carbon based life forms , the sheer wealth of information gathered by Cassini has greatly increased our understanding of the Saturn system, and I will be drinking a farewell toast when it finally descends into the Saturnian depths...
Meanwhile, closer to home, a recent competition has resulted in the creation of jumping lunar nanobots.
The article speaks of profitability and rugged design, but I know that secretly, we're gearing up for nano-robot races on the moon !
Coming Soon - for those in the U.S.A. Once in a lifetime total eclipse of the Sun on the 21st August! To be extensively covered by NASA, I just leave this link here
* Thanks to PlanetDr / SarahHörst for the link
**This seems to be the new buzzword