A new research has shown how life-forms on Titan could potentially look like. The study that details these findings has been published in the journal Science Advances.
Titan is Saturn’s giant moon that has seas made of liquid methane and scientists have tried to imagine how life-forms could look like on this planet. Because of the methane on the surface of the planet, as well as the methane in the atmosphere, scientists believe that the life would present itself very differently than here on Earth.
Scientists have imagined a new type of life-form, based on methane and oxygen-free that can reproduce and thrive in a similar way as cells that are found on Earth.
Astronomers and chemical engineers have designed a form of life that could actually thrive on Titan’s harsh surface. The only type of life-forms that Titan could harbor, scientists believe, would only be methane-based cells that survive without oxygen.
Shown in the image above, the new alien life-forms on Titan would be made from organic nitrogen compounds and capable of thriving in liquid methane temperatures of -493 F (-292 C).
Professor Paulette Clancy, lead author of the study and chemical molecular dynamic expert, along with graduate student in chemical engineering at Cornell University in the US, James Stevenson revealed that even though they are not biologists, not astronomers, they did have the right tools to imagine such a life-form.
Perhaps it helped, because we didn’t come in with any preconceptions about what should be in a membrane and what shouldn’t. We just worked with the compounds that we knew were there and asked, ‘If this was your palette, what can you make out of that?
For better understanding, one needs to know that here on Earth, cells have a water-based membrane that house their organic matter.
Usually when astronomers try to imagine alien life-forms, they imagine them in habitable zones, where oxygen and water could exist, but that doesn’t really need to be the case, as it was shown by Professor Clancy and her team.
The engineers who created the cell called it an azotosome, which means nitrogen body, from azote which means nitrogen in French. This azotosome is made from carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen molecules, all known to exist in the seas of Titan. The next step, scientists believe, would be to demonstrate how these cells would behave in their native methane environment and how they would reproduce.
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