Showing posts with label Saturn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saturn. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Alien Lore No. 173 - Our methane-breathing cousins on Saturn: NASA scientists say "alien life exists on Saturn's moon."

Thanks to All This Is That alien lore tipster Jef Clinton for this story

Nasa scientists have discovered evidence 'that alien life exists on Saturn's moon.'     NASA Researchers believe they have discovered vital clues that indicate primitive aliens could be living on the moon.  Hello, cousins!

NASA's Cassini probe has transmitted data back to us that led to extensive analysis of the complex chemistry on the surface of Titan.   Titan is the only Saturn moon with a dense atmosphere.  Astronomers claim the moon is generally too cold to support even liquid water on its surface.

One study, in the journal Icarus, shows hydrogen gas flowing throughout the planet’s atmosphere, showing  that alien forms could possibly breathe. Another paper, in the Journal of Geophysical Research, says there is no hydrogen on the surface of Titan. The hydrogen theory scientists believe the hydrogen may have been consumed by life. Huh?  Like, they used it up?

According to NASA, "researchers expected sunlight interacting with chemicals in the atmosphere to produce acetylene gas. But the Cassini probe did not detect any such gas."

Chris McKay, an astrobiologist at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, CA, said: “We suggested hydrogen consumption because it's the obvious gas for life to consume on Titan, similar to the way we consume oxygen on Earth."

"If these signs do turn out to be a sign of life, it would be doubly exciting because it would represent a second form of life independent from water-based life on Earth.”

Professor John Zarnecki, of the Open University, said “We believe the chemistry is there for life to form. It just needs heat and warmth to kick-start the process."

They warned, as these tricksy scientists always do, that there could be other explanations for their findings. However, "taken together, these studies indicate two important conditions necessary for methane-based life to exist."

All photos and quotes are courtesy of NASA.  And we get to use them here because we, the taxpayers, paid for it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Happy Birthday 352nd Birthday Titan!

Saturn's largest moon—Titan—was discovered on March 25, 1655 by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, and was the first satellite in the Solar System to be discovered after the Galilean moons of Jupiter. So, I guess it's not really its 352nd birthday after all, but the 352nd anniversary of its discovery. On the other hand, stars, planets, and moons don't really get a chance to celebrate their birthdays, so we'll give this one to Titan.

Titan has a lot of brothers and sisters too: Saturn has 34 known moons. Titan is one of the few moons in our solar system with its own atmosphere.

Titan itself is bigger than the planets Mercury and Pluto (in fact, didn't Pluto just get defrocked with the advent of the 10th planet?). The photograph above is, naturally, from the Cassini voyager.

Other recent All This Is That articles on the solar system:

The tenth planet a/k/a 2003 UB313
Poem: The Tenth Planet (Or An Incredible Facsimile?)

Fantastic new photos of Saturn from the Cassini-Huygens mission
N.S.A. bans photos of Saturn creatures - to avert a run on Depends incontinence products
Photograph Of Mimas, A Moon Of Saturn

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Fantastic new photos of Saturn from the Cassini-Huygens mission

All photography credits are NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Space Science Institute. The photos were all shot by the Cassini spacecraft a couple miles from Saturn (well, 800,000 miles, actually).

Click to enlarge - "Magnificent blue and gold Saturn floats obliquely as one of its gravity-bound companions, Dione, hangs in the distance. The darkened rings seem to nearly touch their shadowy reverse images on the planet below. This view looks toward the unlit side of the rings from about 9 degrees above the ring plane. The rings glow feebly in the scattered light that filters through them. Dione is 1,126 kilometers (700 miles) across. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Feb. 4, 2007, at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (800,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 75 kilometers (47 miles) per pixel. "

Click to enlarge - this clip from a movie sequence captures Saturn's rings "during a ring plane crossing--which Cassini makes twice per orbit--from the spacecraft's point of view. The movie begins with a view of the sunlit side of the rings. As the spacecraft speeds from south to north, the rings appear to tilt downward and collapse to a thin plane, and then open again to reveal the un-illuminated side of the ring plane, where sunlight filters through only dimly. "

click to enlarge - "Surely one of the most gorgeous sights the solar system has to offer, Saturn sits enveloped by the full splendor of its stately rings. Taking in the rings in their entirety was the focus of this particular imaging sequence. Therefore, the camera exposure times were just right to capture the dark-side of its rings, but longer than that required to properly expose the globe of sunlit Saturn. Consequently, the sunlit half of the planet is overexposed. Between the blinding light of day and the dark of night, there is a strip of twilight on the globe where colorful details in the atmosphere can be seen. Bright clouds dot the bluish-grey northern polar region here. In the south, the planet's night side glows golden in reflected light from the rings' sunlit face. "