Life ‘not as we know it’ could be possible on Saturn’s moon Titan
- Taking a simultaneously imaginative and rigidly scientific view, chemical engineers and astronomers offer a template for life that could thrive in a harsh, cold world – specifically Titan, the giant moon of Saturn. A planetary body awash with seas not of water, but of liquid methane, Titan could harbor methane-based, oxygen-free cells.
- On Earth, life is based on the phospholipid bilayer membrane, the strong, permeable, water-based vesicle that houses the organic matter of every cell. A vesicle made from such a membrane is called a liposome. Thus, many astronomers seek extraterrestrial life in what’s called the circumstellar habitable zone, the narrow band around the sun in which liquid water can exist.
- Their theorized cell membrane, composed of small organic nitrogen compounds and capable of functioning in liquid methane temperatures of 292 degrees below zero, is published in Science Advances, Feb. 27.
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