Scientists from many countries around the world, including India, are working to find life on Mars. Nighttime temperature on Mars can reach -90 ° C. Now double it to either -180 degrees Celsius or the temperature of Saturn’s Titan moon. Still, scientists at the Compass Lab at the Glenn Research Center at NASA’s US Space Agency are busy exploring life here. Recently, NASA also awarded Glenn a grant of Rs 90 million. Navbharat Times Online learned from Geoffrey Landis, Principal Scientist at Compass Lab, Why are scientists looking for life on Titan?
1. Why is there hope for life on Titan?
Right now, we only know Earth with the belief that there is life here, so we don’t know where life can be. However, we know that the vital complex is made up of organic molecules. This is something we find quite heavily on Titan, in the form of complex “Tholin” chemicals, about which we know very little. Tholin appears to be more tar than life as we know it, but they can be the organic molecules needed early in life. To learn more about this, we want to learn more about Titan’s surface chemistry and if possible, bring samples to Earth.
2. Does any of Titan’s characteristics, chemical or physical, resemble ancient or present earth?
Titan is the only moon in the solar system that has a thick atmosphere and is the only body (planet or moon) that has visible sources of liquid on its surface. Titan has liquid hydrocarbons – methane and ethane, but it’s still like lakes, clouds, and dirt in the weather, even when it’s raining methane.
3. How is the design of missions and equipment for Titan or Saturn different from that of Mars or the Moon?
Titan is very different from the Moon or Mars because its atmosphere is much thicker, denser than the Earth. It is also extremely cold, with an average temperature of -180 ° C. This means that anything we design must be able to function well below the temperature of Earth or Mars (like the midnight temperature on the moon). ).
4. What may be the obstacles to obtaining concrete results in this direction?
It’s a very difficult project to bring samples from Titan. The biggest problem is that Titan is far away. 1.5 billion kilometers from the sun and 6 times more than Mars. This makes it very difficult to get on and operate on Titan and it will take a lot of fuel to get the sample back to Earth from Titan. So we want to make our fuel on Titan, rather than taking it from land.
5. Do we have the technology to make fuel on Titan? And what is the imaging and experimentation technology?
We’ve come up with ways to craft fuel that we think we can use with Titan’s resources. We have to study the results and see how much work it does. The realization of the imagery and technology will be seen on the Dragonfly mission in 2026. This will give us more information about the surface of Titan that we will use for mission planning.