Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Astro-Image of the Day 2: Electrical Activity + Hydrocarbons = Life on Titan?

It's just getting more and more exciting Out There, folks! Newly released information from the Cassini mission to Saturn's moon Titan reveals lots of electrical activity. Yesterday, hydrocarbon seas; today, electricity. Tomorrow...?

Click the image to see the story.

Why is this important? "Titan not only has an atmosphere it has hydrocarbon lakes, oceans, sand dunes and now research has just been published proving Saturn's moon is sparkling with electrical activity. Scientists are in general agreement that organic molecules, the precursors to life on Earth, are a consequence of lightning in the atmosphere. Now, using data from the Huygens probe that descended through Titan's atmosphere in 2005 and continued transmitting for 90 minutes after touchdown, Spanish scientists have "unequivocally" proven that Titan has electrical storms too. The presence of electrical activity in the atmosphere is causing much excitement as this could mean that organic compounds may be found in abundance on the Titan surface."

And now for a gratuitous shot of some awesome lightning... though probably not the type we'll see on Titan. This is called "Volcano lightning." OMG, but do I love weatherporn.

Click the image to see the story.

Yeah, baby! Next discovery: Little critters in the Titanian seas.

Tags: astronomy

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