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Cassini Finds Hydrocarbons on Titan..(guess we can throw away our Bibles now)
ap ^ | Mon, Apr 25, 2005 | na

Posted on 04/25/2005 7:49:18 PM PDT by Flavius

PASADENA, Calif. - A close flyby of Saturn's big moon Titan by the international Cassini spacecraft revealed an upper atmosphere brimming with complex organic material, a finding that could hold clues to how life arose on Earth, scientists said Monday.

Cassini flew within 638 miles of Titan's frozen surface on April 16 and discovered a hydrocarbon-laced upper atmosphere.

Titan's atmosphere is mainly made up 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 — about minus 290 degrees — scientists expected the organic material to condense and rain down to the surface.

"We are beginning to appreciate the role of the upper atmosphere in the complex carbon cycle that occurs on Titan," said Hunter Waite, a professor at the University of Michigan.

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

The $3.3 billion Cassini mission, funded by NASA and the European and Italian space agencies, was launched in 1997 and took seven years to reach Saturn. The European Huygens probe carried aboard Cassini was released on Dec. 24 and plunged to the surface of Titan in January.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: biochemistry; biology; casini; cassini; chemistry; science; space; titan
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1 posted on 04/25/2005 7:49:20 PM PDT by Flavius
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To: Flavius
Carl Sagan Discusses Origins of Life What would be considered a star-studded cast in the world of chemistry converged on the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall October 22 to rename the structure after the late pioneering U.C. Berkeley chemist, George C. Pimentel, who taught thousands of students in the hall. Nearly 1,000 turned out at the dedication to hear the Pimentel Lecture, given by renowned astronomer and author Carl Sagan, who interacted with Pimentel while working on the Mariner missions to Mars. Preceding Sagan's lecture, Professor Kenneth Pitzer, Pimentel's research director, spoke about Pimentel as a promising young scientist, while Professor Bradley Moore, Pimentel's graduate student and colleague, discussed his early achievements. "George was really the quintessential teacher-scholar," Moore said. Jan Coonrod, Pimentel's daughter, told the audience about Pimentel's unique personality and love for life. Vice Chancellor Carol Christ then performed the official dedication, saying that Pimentel, "in his life and in his career, epitomizes the ideal that Berkeley strives for." Sagan's lecture, "Organic Chemistry in the Outer Solar System: Clues to the Origin of Life," blended Pimentel's achievements in chemistry with Sagan's own interests. Sagan pointed out the use of Pimentel's infrared spectrometer as a key piece of analytical apparatus on the Mariner mission. Although his initial observations of the Martian atmosphere were in error, Pimentel's approach "has borne fruit repeatedly," Sagan said. Profiling the use of infrared spectrometry in the discovery of organic chemistry in the solar system, Sagan recalled "George's sense that in space there ought to be lots of organic chemistry," adding that this has been confirmed with next-generation infrared spectrometers. "Jovian planets and those beyond are loaded with organic chemistry," he said. Recently, Pimentel's technique was used to confirm the existence of organic material coming off Halley's Comet. Sagan then focused on the chemistry of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. He and his colleagues managed to roughly reproduce the atmospheric conditions on Titan, deriving a substance that resembled the murky material observed on the surface of the planet. "It is fair to claim that we bottled the haze of Titan," Sagan said. The haze, which left a "tarry, brownish solid" residual, had a spectrum that essentially matched measurements of Titan's spectrum. When analyzed, it was found to contain one percent amino acids and detectable amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. "It is clearly loaded with great stuff," Sagan said, referring to the fact that such material suggests the possibility of life. However, Sagan pointed out, Titan is essentially a frozen planet. Taking into account the heat generated by asteroid impacts, Sagan and his colleagues calculated that an average point on Titan has seen liquid water for about 1000 years in the last 4.5 billion years. "Whether 1000 years is enough for the origin of life is very much an unknown question," said Sagan. Nevertheless, Sagan said it is "at least very plausible that there is an organic chemistry accumulating on the surface of Titan that may be relevant to the origin of life." Noting that the European Space Agency's mission to Saturn will carry a spectrometer not much different in principle from Pimentel's, Sagan concluded: "George Pimentel's legacy will be in the Saturn system in the year 2004 and I think we can safely predict that in the entire future of spacecraft exploration of the solar system, George's legacy will live on."
2 posted on 04/25/2005 7:51:28 PM PDT by Flavius ("... we should reconnoitre assiduosly... " Vegetius)
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To: Flavius

A carpenter from several thousand years ago once commented on extra-terrestrials: "I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd."


3 posted on 04/25/2005 7:52:13 PM PDT by FormerACLUmember (Honoring Saint Jude's assistance every day.)
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To: Flavius

Flavius, I think the Bible is silent on the issue of Titan.

But what great data! Everywhere we look things are more complex than we imagined.

What a wonderful Universe God created for us to play in.


4 posted on 04/25/2005 7:52:20 PM PDT by DBrow
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To: Flavius

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

Similar in that it contains 2 molecules known to exist on earth. Except for the 350 degree difference in temperature, it's ready to spawn humanity spontaneaously any day now. sarc/


5 posted on 04/25/2005 7:53:16 PM PDT by EERinOK
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To: FormerACLUmember; Quix

So...Jesus got into a space ship and went to another planer far, far away?


6 posted on 04/25/2005 7:56:32 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (Get after the RAT's all of you cat people - earn your keep!)
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To: Flavius

Does this mean that they had SUV's up there long before us?


7 posted on 04/25/2005 7:56:50 PM PDT by umgud (FR, NASCAR, NRA, GOP)
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To: umgud

I donno, but I bet that methane would be nicely turned into diesel now just to figure a way to get it down here...


8 posted on 04/25/2005 7:58:08 PM PDT by Flavius ("... we should reconnoitre assiduosly... " Vegetius)
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To: Flavius
Colossians 1
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
9 posted on 04/25/2005 7:58:34 PM PDT by HisKingdomWillAbolishSinDeath (Proverbs 10:30 The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.)
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To: Flavius

A 4.5 billion year old atmosphere that's still mostly methane and nitrogen? This doesn't bode well for the hope that anything calls Titan home.


10 posted on 04/25/2005 7:58:43 PM PDT by Redcloak (But what do I know? I'm just a right-wing nut in his PJs whackin' on a keyboard..)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
So...Jesus got into a space ship and went to another planer far, far away?

Yup, that's it. You outwitted me. I forgot that God needs a spaceship to travel around the universe.

11 posted on 04/25/2005 8:00:36 PM PDT by FormerACLUmember (Honoring Saint Jude's assistance every day.)
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To: FormerACLUmember

just one universe?


12 posted on 04/25/2005 8:01:44 PM PDT by Flavius ("... we should reconnoitre assiduosly... " Vegetius)
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To: HisKingdomWillAbolishSinDeath

New translation: "For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels--everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him."


13 posted on 04/25/2005 8:02:58 PM PDT by FormerACLUmember (Honoring Saint Jude's assistance every day.)
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To: Redcloak

I guess maybe they had a thought that you know with billions of stars chances are there are other rocks like ours...


14 posted on 04/25/2005 8:03:49 PM PDT by Flavius ("... we should reconnoitre assiduosly... " Vegetius)
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To: KevinDavis; PatrickHenry

Titan ping!!


15 posted on 04/25/2005 8:03:52 PM PDT by AntiGuv ()
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To: Flavius
just one universe?

Infinite universes.

16 posted on 04/25/2005 8:04:00 PM PDT by FormerACLUmember (Honoring Saint Jude's assistance every day.)
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To: FormerACLUmember

Sounds like a good hedge fund


17 posted on 04/25/2005 8:04:23 PM PDT by Flavius ("... we should reconnoitre assiduosly... " Vegetius)
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To: FormerACLUmember

i donno about infinite seems like a lot


18 posted on 04/25/2005 8:04:51 PM PDT by Flavius ("... we should reconnoitre assiduosly... " Vegetius)
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To: Flavius
Hydrocarbons containing as many as seven carbon atoms were observed, as well as nitrogen- containing hydrocarbons (nitriles).

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is really complex.

19 posted on 04/25/2005 8:05:10 PM PDT by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: FormerACLUmember

AMEN


20 posted on 04/25/2005 8:05:56 PM PDT by AZHua87
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