Titan, moon of Saturn – an actual surface image (aspect ratio altered)

Image: public domain, available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_(moon)

  • 1024px-Huygens_probe_dsc03686
    Huygens Probe replica, by David Monniaux, available at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Huygens_probe_dsc03686.jpg

    The above image, taken from the surface of Titan, moon of Saturn, is the only image from a moon other than the moon (of Earth).  It was taken by the Huygens probe, which landed on Titan in 2005.

  • While the portion of the surface of Titan shown in the surface image appears bare, Titan is in fact strongly evidenced as elsewhere having surface bodies of liquid hydrocarbons (as well as an atmosphere with which such liquids may chemically interact).  These surface liquids represent the first stable bodies of liquid found beyond Earth.  In addition, Titan is evidenced to have a subsurface liquid water/ammonia ocean.
  • It has been (very speculatively) theorized (including by astrobiologist Chris McKay) that methanogenic (methane-producing) microbes may live in the surface lakes of Titan, using, as a solvent, not water as all Earth-based life does, but liquid hydrocarbons, such as methane, in the lakes of Titan (for some more overview information on this, see the Fosdick’s Astrobiology Series article on this subject).
  • Resources include: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothetical_types_of_biochemistry, and http://astrobiology.jhu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Icarus-2005-McKay.pdf

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