For decades, scientists have believed that life on other planets can only exist if there is water, and the planet is in the “Goldilocks” zone. A planet is in the Goldilocks or habitable zone if it is the right distance away from their sun or star.
Saturn’s largest moon Titan is not in the habitable zone, but it does have a dense atmosphere. It is also the only object, other than Earth, that has stable bodies of surface liquid. With a radius of less than half that of Earth (1601 miles as opposed to 3959 miles), it is nevertheless considerably bigger than our moon which has a radius of 1079 miles.
These factors had scientist decide that Titan was worth exploring and on 25 December 2004, the Huygens atmospheric entry probe was launched to help in the investigation. Since its successful landing on Titan in 2005, a team of researchers at Cornell University
have been simulating the conditions found in an effort to show that certain chemical reactions could lead to life forms, even if there is no water present. If this is the case, the theory of life only existing on planets in the Goldilocks zone will continue to lose credibility.
The researchers reason that for life to come about in places not deemed viable by the traditional theories, some type of action needs to be going on. Titan has rainfall and erosion – both caused by liquid movement, exactly the action researches were looking for. The liquid in question is however not water. Ethane and methane rain has brought down hydrogen cyanide that has been found in Titan’s sediment. Although there is water on Titan, it is frozen solid and deep underground.
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