Hydrocarbons found on Titan atmosphere

  • AP, PTI, Pasadena (California)
  • |
  • Updated: Apr 27, 2005 19:33 IST

A close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan by the Cassini spacecraft revealed an upper atmosphere brimming with complex organic material, a finding that could hold clues to how life arose on Earth, scientists have said. Cassini flew within 1,027 km of Titan's frozen surface on April 16 and discovered a hydrocarbon-laced upper atmosphere.

Titan's atmosphere is made up mainly of nitrogen and methane, the simplest type of hydrocarbon. But scientists were surprised to find complex organic material in the latest flyby. Because Titan is extremely cold, scientists expected the organic material to condense and rain down to the surface.

Scientists believe Titan's atmosphere may be similar to that of the primordial Earth. They believe studying it could provide clues to how life began.


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