Titan’s Strange Chemical World Gets Simulated in Tiny Tubes

A research chemist mixed nitrogen, methane, and other molecules to re-create the conditions that might harbor life on one of Saturn’s moons.

The landscape of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is both familiar and strange. Like Earth, Titan has rivers, lakes, clouds, and falling raindrops, as well as mountains of ice and a thick atmosphere. But instead of water, Titan’s chemical cycle is composed of liquid methane, an organic molecule made from one carbon and four hydrogen atoms. Researchers believe this swirling mixture of methane, combined with the moon’s nitrogen-laden atmosphere, surface water ice, and maybe some energy from either a volcano or a meteor impact, might have been the perfect

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