Titan

Year: 2018-19

Kumari Anushka

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"For me, Titan is an astounding moon, one of its kind. I want to study and explore the unusual features this rare moon in the solar system has.

Titan's chemically active atmosphere attracted me the most as I read the articles and watched the JPL videos about Titan. The main reason I would like to explore Titan is to study the relation between chemical reactivity and life. I agree with Grinspoon's view, ''Worlds that are
meteorologically and geologically alive are much more likely to be biologically alive as well.”

The thing that I am concerned about is finding a different kind of extraterrestrial life on Titan. Sarah Horsh is said to have reported that five nucleotide bases - the building blocks of DNA and RNA were one of the many compounds produced when energy was applied to combination of gases in Titan's atmosphere. The acrylonitrile in Titan's atmosphere can be helpful in making cell membrane that is capable of functioning in liquid methane.

I would like to collect samples of the hydrocarbon lakes at Titan and test the biological activity , the so called 'non-water based life' shows in it. The main challenge is developing that kind of hypothetical cell here, at Earth. If that kind of cell is developed that would itself be a milestone. However, it may not ensure the presence of same kind of life on Titan because of the differences in temperature and pressure .

Though I amn't sure if the experiments really work but, trying should be a priority. Titan may not be the place to be inhabited by some extraterrestrial life but, it may shed light on our existing explanation of biological evolution. Chemistry is indeed an important part of Science. Titan may function as an established laboratory in space where complex reactions keep happening all the time.

Also , there are some surprising reactions happening on Titan at so low temperatures . The fact that Hydrogen and Acetylene react chemically at -178 degree celcius as they sink towards the surface of Titan is a mystery. The surplus production of methane in its atmosphere is also unexplained.

The JPL videos and images of Titan were marvelous, such a weird place is worth exploring to test the hypothesis formulated through observation. In the process we may be exposed to the diverse and unusual world of chemical reactivity."

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