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NASA Space Science

Tropical Lakes On Saturn Moon Could Expand Options For Life 84

Posted by samzenpus
from the going-for-a-dip dept.
ananyo writes "Nestling among the dunes in the dry equatorial region of Saturn's moon Titan is what appears to be a hydrocarbon lake. The observation, by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, suggests that oases of liquid methane — which might be a crucible for life — lie beneath the moon's surface. Besides Earth, Titan is the only object in the Solar System to circulate liquids in a cycle of rain and evaporation, although on Titan the process is driven by methane rather than water. This cycle is expected to form liquid bodies near the moon's poles, but not at its dune-covered equator. Now scientists think they have found a tropical lake — some 60 kilometers long and 40 kilometers wide, and at least 1 meter deep — in Cassini observations made between 2004 and 2008. Because tropical lakes on Titan should evaporate over a period of just a few thousand years, the researchers argue that these ponds and lakes are being replenished by subsurface oases of liquid methane. That would expand the number of places on the moon where life could potentially originate."
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Tropical Lakes On Saturn Moon Could Expand Options For Life

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  • by codewarren (927270) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @08:43AM (#40321315)

    Extreme cold, on the other hand, does reduce the odds of finding life. Not because things can't live in cold climate, but because evolution is ultimately a chemical process, and all chemical processes are retarded by cold. It took life on earth billions of years to evolve in a temperate climate. In a gigantic freezer, it could be expected to take much much longer.

"Life sucks, but it's better than the alternative." -- Peter da Silva