Two potential signatures of life on Saturn’s moon Titan have been found by the Cassini spacecraft But scientists are quick to point out that non-biological chemical reactions could also be behind the observations. Microbes on Titan could eke out an existence by breathing in hydrogen gas and eating the organic molecule acetylene, creating methane in the process. This would result in a lack of acetylene on Titan and a depletion of hydrogen close to the moon’s surface, where the microbes would live. Measurements from the Cassini spacecraft have borne out these predictions, hinting that life may be present.
Infrared spectra of Titan’s surface taken with the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) showed no sign of acetylene, even though ultraviolet sunlight should constantly trigger its production in the moon’s thick atmosphere
More work must be done to rule out non-biological causes.
Ultimate proof would require sending a landing probe on Titan and actually imaging microbes.
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