If There’s Life in the Stars, Titan’s a Good Place to Look

Can’t go wrong with moons named after Greek deities.

When you talk about finding life on other planets, the assumption is that we’re going to find some kind of hidden city full of little green men flying around in saucers. While such a thing is not impossible (unlikely, but not impossible), the search for life elsewhere in the universe tends to drift more toward the basic side of things. We’re probably not going to find signs of a developed civilization, but if we can find, say, thriving microorganisms, that would be some pretty astounding stuff.

Credit: ExtremeTech

The thing is that life, at least based on our understanding of it, requires certain things to exist, and most celestial bodies, at least within spitting distance of Earth, don’t have that stuff. Life as we understand it probably wouldn’t be found on Uranus, for example, because Uranus is almost completely covered in a sheet of ice, or at least something roughly akin to ice.

So if we want to find life, where do we look? Well, nobody said we have to check full-on planets. Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is a promising candidate. It has an atmosphere and liquid lakes, not unlike Earth. Of course, both Titan’s atmosphere and lakes are comprised primarily of methane rather than oxygen or water, but stuff can live in methane! Researchers have likened Titan to a very early incarnation of Earth, where everything was all hot and crater-y and whatnot. Theoretically, if life can emerge from Earth’s primordial soup in similar conditions, then it stands to reason that such a process may already be underway on Titan.

Credit: NASA

We don’t know for sure right now, but NASA is planning on deploying a drone to Titan in the near future to get some up close and personal research done. If microscopic life is discovered, we could actually witness a do-over of the beginnings of our own Earth. Obviously, it wouldn’t come to fruition for a few millennia, but it’d still be pretty neat.

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