Advertisements

No aliens on Titan

June 9, 2010

Actual image of surface of Titan taken by the Huygens probe which landed on Titan in 2005.

Lately the media has been buzzing about the possibility of methane-based life on Saturn’s moon Titan. As usual, when scientists include the words “interesting,” “odd,” “life,” “extraterrestrial,” and “discovery” in the same press release, the media starts creating misleading headlines that make people think we’ve discovered extraterrestrial life. Chill out, folks, that’s not the case here. Basically what they found is that, in the hydrocarbon lakes on Titan’s surface, there is much less acetylene than expected, based on other measurements taken by the Cassini probe, currently orbiting Saturn. They also found via a computer simulation modeling the atmospheric conditions on Titan (not direct measurement) that there is also much less hydrogen at the surface than there should be. These are intriguing results, and deserve much further study, but methane-based life on Titan is just one of many possible explanations, the rest of which are non-biological. Good articles explaining this further can be found at Universe Today and Bad Astronomy, but the best explanation comes from Chris McKay at the NASA Ames Research Center. He’s one of the astrobiologists working with the Cassini mission, and states the facts very clearly (at least if you’re vaguely familiar with biology and/or organic chemistry. For a little bit more “laymen’s terms” explanation, I recommend reading either the Universe Today or Bad Astronomy articles.

Advertisements

Not much time today, but here’s the skinny for the weekend:

Tonight the Armed Forces play the first installment of the Poolapalooza series at the Opryland Hotel. This could be an interesting one… but I’ll be heading to Exit/In to photograph Black Moth Super Rainbow. I love the band name, but I’m honestly not that familiar with them. Also, How I Became the Bomb will be releasing the last installment of their 3-song digital EP series called Through Adversity to the Stars! at Mercy Lounge. They’ll be joined by Chattanooga’s Coral Castles and Pineapple Explode. Wait… what? Yes I agree, P.E. is by far the odd-man-out on the bill. But I’m really glad those guys/girl are getting to play for such a big crowd as opposed their usual basement shows.

Tomorrow I’m photographing Coldplay/Snow Patrol at the Sommet Center. Whatevs on the bands…. it’s always fun to shoot big stadium sized tours though. Snow Patrol is also doing a free in-store show at Grimey’s at 2pm. Sorry Grimey’s but I won’t be anywhere near your store tomorrow. I have a feeling the resulting clusterfuck on 8th Ave will rival that of Record Store Day.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Scene before next week’s edition hits the stands and read Tracy Moore’s feature article “Almost Famous.” The article follows the story of 4 local-ish bands/artists who essentially got ground up and quickly spit back out of the major label music industry, and it’s damn good. Bands beware indeed. I honestly hadn’t a clue that Eureka Gold had come so close to a major record deal. Makes sense they kept it kinda quiet though.

I’m somewhat excited about a new sci-fi movie coming out called Moon. It’s set in the future where humans have a mining outpost on the Moon to extract Helium-3, which will solve the answer to earth’s energy crisis. The mining base is run by one solitary man, and the film follows him through his last 2 weeks of a 3-year stint working on the base. For a more detailed synopsis, check out the IMDB page. I’m not quite convinced it’ll really all that good, but it certainly shows promise. It comes out July 17th.

Speaking of moons, I came across this article on the Daily Galaxy about Saturn’s moon Titan. Astronomers are very interested in Titan because it’s one of the few places in the solar system that has the potential for life. The others being Mars, Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and Jupiter’s moon Europa. Titan is basically a much colder analog of earth. It has oceans, land, clouds, mountains, and even a nitrogen-rich atmosphere. The difference is the temperature. Obviously it’s much colder than earth because it’s so much farther away from the Sun, which means the oceans and clouds are mostly made of liquid methane, not water. But still, even with the extreme cold and all the methane/nitrogen, it still could harbor microbial life. We even have a few pictures of the surface of Titan, thanks to the Huygens probe which was part of the Cassini mission. I highly suggest reading the Daily Galaxy article. The surface of Titan:

Have a great weekend!

Advertisements