Latest Tholin Stories
Scientists reported in the journal Nature Communications that complex organic chemistry could eventually lead to the building blocks of life on Saturn's moon Titan.
For almost thirty years, scientists have known that complex carbon compounds called tholins exist on comets and in the atmospheres of the outer planets. Theoretically, tholins might interact with water in a process called hydrolysis to produce complex molecules similar to those found on the early Earth.
Saturn's orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.
Astronomers at the Carnegie Institution have found the first indications of highly complex organic molecules in the disk of red dust surrounding a distant star.
Scientists analysing data gathered by Cassini have confirmed the presence of heavy negative ions in the upper regions of Titanâ€™s atmosphere. These particles may act as building blocks for more complicated organic molecules.
Arizona's Jonathan Lunine presented a lecture entitled "Titan: A Personal View after Cassini's first six months in Saturn orbit" at a NASA Director's Seminar on January 24, 2005. Lunine discusses the question of missing methane in an edited transcript of Part 2.