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Space exploration - A robotic probe explores a frigid ethane lake on Saturn's moon Titan - Space Art Illustration

Looking for life on Titan

A robotic probe explores a frigid ethane lake on Titan. Like the European Space Agency's Huygens probe, this probe carries its own light source as the surface of Titan is only 0.1 percent as bright as the Earth's. The probe is built like a shiny steel thermos in order to insulate it from Titan's staggering cold.

Titan is host to a plethora of organic (carbon-based) compounds, hence this is one of the few places in the Solar System where life outside of the Earth may have evolved. In many ways, Titan resembles a frozen primordial Earth, though the greatest obstacle to Titan harboring life--as we know it--is the extreme cold. Even though all the chemical ingredients are present, Titan simply may not be warm enough to initiate the chemical reactions required for life.

Perhaps sometime in the next decades such a mission to Titan will be a reality.


Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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