Titanic Indications of Extraterrestrial Life

The Daily Mail has an interesting piece today on tantalizing indications that there might be a form of life on Titan, a moon that orbits Saturn.  Titan is one of the largest moons in the solar system and has a dense atmosphere.

The Daily Mail piece reports on two articles recently published in scientific journals that attempt to find evidence of life by focusing on the presence and absence of certain elements and chemicals.  One article notes that hydrogen that is found in Titan’s atmosphere seems to disappear when it reaches the surface and posits that a potential explanation is that the hydrogen is breathed, or otherwise consumed, by life forms on the surface.  The second article suggests that a similar conclusion could be inferred from the absence of still another chemical on the surface.

It is always risky to make broad extrapolations based on the absence of something, but the scholarly articles and the indicators they highlight are intriguing.  They confirm, once again, that exploring the moons of Saturn and Jupiter could be tremendously rewarding from a scientific standpoint.  If there is life on Titan, however, it would be quite different from life on Earth.  Although there is liquid on Titan, the liquid is methane, and scientists think life would be methane-based.

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