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Mon Dec 17, 2012, 02:59 PM

Life-Supporting Methane Zone on Titan?

See this. It's very interesting, especially given recent information about Titan and it's atmosphere and surface.

http://www.space.com/13639-alien-life-methane-habitable-zone.html

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:10 PM

1. I see this as a good thing. If life there is methane-based, we don't have to worry

about them coming here and invading us to steal our planet.

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Response to kestrel91316 (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:25 PM

3. Well, there's methane here, but not often in liquid form.

It seems like all the chemical reactions on Titan take place in the stratosphere, due to UV light. I'm sure there's some bromine, chlorine and fluorine involved as the oxidizing elements. Low temperature reactions, triggered by UV. It would be a very different sort of lifeform, but the signs are certainly favorable for it.

I think we have a mission to Titan that will do some atmospheric analysis sometime down the road.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:16 PM

2. I'm envisioning this as a Republican free-speech zone..

but maybe I'm getting too far ahead.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 06:36 PM

4. "Life requires liquid water" is only written in stone for this planet

Chances are good that methane is adequate to support life. However, with a temperature low enough for liquid methane, such life would be very slow to grow and would likely be mistaken for something inanimate by warmer creatures like ourselves.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #4)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 07:03 PM

5. There's the problem of how ions behave in the liquid, and hydrogen bonds

"We live on a planet where water is a liquid and we have adapted and evolved to work with that liquid," McKay said. "Life has very cleverly used the properties of water to do things not just in terms of solution, but in using the strong polarity of that solution to its advantage in terms of hydrophobic and hydrophilic bonds, and using the very structure of water to help align molecules."


The polarity of water molecules mean it dissolves many ionic compounds; methane has a symmetrical (tetrahedral) molecule so it's not polar. Life on earth depends on those hydrophobic and hydrophilic bonds, and the hydrogen bonds of water molecules; is it possible to have life without dissolved ions available for reactions?

Ammonia is also a polar molecule, however.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #5)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 09:28 PM

6. Exactly, and it often coexists with methane on such planets.

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