A mystery on Venus

Scientists have reported that they have found abnormal amounts of a toxic compound called phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere, at 55-80 km altitude. This story is currently all over my Twitter feed because one way to explain this unexpected abundance is that microbes could be producing this gas – as we know them to do onContinue reading “A mystery on Venus”

A new map of Titan

It’s been a long time since I’ve obsessed over Titan, primarily because after the Cassini mission ended, the pace of updates about Titan died down, and because other moons of the Solar System (Europa, Io, Enceladus, Ganymede and our own) became more important. There have been three or four notable updates since my last postContinue reading “A new map of Titan”

Why Titan is awesome #11

Titaaaaan! Here we go again. 😄 As has been reported, NASA has been interested in sending a robotic submarine to Saturn’s moon Titan to explore the hydrocarbon lakes near its north pole. Various dates have been mentioned and in all it seems likely the mission will be able to take off around 2040. In the 22 yearsContinue reading “Why Titan is awesome #11”

Why Titan is awesome #10

Titaaaaan! How much I’ve missed writing these posts since Cassini passed away. Unsurprisingly, it’s after the probe’s demise that we’ve really begun to realise how much of Cassini’s images and data we were consuming on a daily basis, all of which is gone. There’s no more the steady stream of visuals of Saturn’s rings, bands,Continue reading “Why Titan is awesome #10”

Titan's lakes might be fizzing with nitrogen bubbles

The results are relevant for future lander-probes to Titan – and to understand the surface chemistry of the only other body in the Solar System known to have liquids on its surface.

Titan’s lakes might be fizzing with nitrogen bubbles

The results are relevant for future lander-probes to Titan – and to understand the surface chemistry of the only other body in the Solar System known to have liquids on its surface.

A falling want of opportunity for life to grip Titan

There is a new possibility for life on Titan. Scientists affiliated with Cornell University have created a blueprint for a cellular lifeform that wouldn’t need water to survive. Water on Earth has been the principal ingredient of, as well as the catalyst for, the formation of life. The Cornell scientists believe water could be replaced byContinue reading “A falling want of opportunity for life to grip Titan”

A close encounter with the mid-sized, icy kind

In three days, NASA’s Cassini mission will fly by Saturn’s second-largest moon Rhea. While interest in the Saturnian moons has been hogged by the largest – Titan – Cassini‘s images of Rhea could provide important new information about a class of natural satellites that it exemplifies: the so-called ‘mid-sized’ moons. While Titan is big enough to be aContinue reading “A close encounter with the mid-sized, icy kind”

Life on Titan’s world of goo

In the August 8 issue of Science, an international team of scientists has a paper that submits evidence of life in an asphalt lake in Trinidad. Despite having a low water content of 13.5%, it still possesses methane-digesting microbes huddled up in tiny water droplets. One of the authors, Dirk Schulze-Makuch, speculates in an Air &Continue reading “Life on Titan’s world of goo”

What life on Earth tells us about life ‘elsewhere’

In 1950, the physicist Enrico Fermi asked a question not many could forget for a long time: “Where is everybody?” He was referring to the notion that, given the age and size of the universe, advanced civilizations ought to have arisen in many parts of it. But if they had, then where are their space probes andContinue reading “What life on Earth tells us about life ‘elsewhere’”