Neish Says Titan Has Ingredients For Life After Fresh ‘water Ice’ Was Found Under Craters

Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the second-largest satellite in the solar system. It is the only moon in the space to have a dense atmosphere. Besides Earth, Titan is the only known body in space where clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found. Recently a study published in Astronomy and Astrophysics by Catherine Neish-a member of Western’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration along and her collaborators at ESA investigated Titan using very high imaging technology. They found that when impact craters are formed on Titan, it exposes relatively fresh ‘water ice’ from Titan’s icy crust. The study further revealed that the atmospheric processes bury the ice under a layer of sand-like organic material. In Titan’s dry equatorial regions, the sand piles up; but at highest and wetter attitudes, the surface streams erode the sand away. Until one has a multi-million dollar Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometers like ESA, it is very difficult to assess what lies beneath the hazy atmosphere of Titan. READ | Ruth Bader Ginsburg Demise: Trump Mourns Death Of SC Judge Calls, Her ‘Titan Of The Law’ Titan has ingredients for life While describing Titan, Neish said that no other place in the solar system is like Titan and there is more sand on Titan per area than anywhere else. She added, “Titan has weather. It’s not unlike the Earth in that way. It’s just that the ingredients are all wrong. It has methane rain and streams cutting through the surface and organic sand getting blown around. It’s still very active, just like it is here on Earth.” READ | ESA Finds 3 More Subglacial Lakes On Mars, Says These Lakes May Harbour Unique Ecosystems These latest findings will be very beneficial in discovering ancient ecosystems that lay frozen in the bottoms of impact craters. Apart from this, the finding will prove to be valuable when preparing data analysis and monitoring techniques for the upcoming Dragonfly drone mission to Titan. “I think more and more, we’re seeing a false equivalency between life and Mars. The recent findings of Venus and all the new things we’re learning about it once being an ocean world is another game-changer,” said Neish. “Finally, people are saying, ‘In our search for life in the universe, we really need to focus on a lot more places, and not just Mars.’ And that includes NASA sending the Dragonfly mission to Titan.” READ | Study: ‘Search For Life On Mars, Moon & Other Objects Won’t Be Easy, But Not Impossible’ As interest in Titan and other planetary bodies grow, Neish feels the global space sector is ready to start looking beyond Mars for the existence of life—even if the Red Planet remains the prime destination for NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and blockbuster movie producers in Hollywood. READ | ExoMars 2022: ESA Rover Rosalind Franklin To Deliver Surface Platform To The Red Planet

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