Saturn’s moon to be probed for life

The icy Jovian moon Europa and primordial Mars have always been the leading candidates for possible extraterrestrial life within the solar system. However, the periodically liquid methane lakes of Titan, a moon of Saturn, are due for a thawing, which scientists hope to exploit to scan for signs of life or life’s necessary conditions. Via New Scientist*:

 In August, the northern hemisphere of Saturn – and thus Titan – began to be illuminated by the sun for the first time in 15 years. “We will hopefully see within the next few years of Cassini observations whether the lake distribution remains constant on timescales of years and where and when it rains in the north polar region,” Tokano told New Scientist.If the lakes do in fact last longer than a few years, that would be good news for the potential development of life on the moon.

“Titan’s lakes are pretty cold, so the prebiotic chemistry or organic chemistry in general should proceed at a much slower pace than on Earth,” says Tokano. “Should the lakes dry up every 10 years or so, this may simply be too short for any relevant chemical evolution under Titan’s condition. Tens of thousands of years are better than 10 years… for astrobiology.”

*The last legacy of the Edward Willis Scripps Science Service, which I once wrote a term-paper on. It was reportorial, boring and forced, but my instructor didn’t seem to care.

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