Saturn's moon exhibits essential ingredients for life

By Taylor Kearns - bio | email

A NASA probe makes a bizarre discovery and renews the questions about life in our solar system.

Saturn has one of the solar system's largest and most interesting moons: Titan.

The Cassini probe took a closer look at the surface, and it shows something surprising. There's a mountain 3,000 feet tall along with a huge crater. That crater looks like a volcano, and you won't believe what's coming out of it. "It's not molten rock," says volcanologist Rosaly Lopes, "It's actually a watery mixture."

Titan is so cold that the icy slush on its surface is similar to the lava on ours. In other words, the near-freezing slush is hundreds of degrees warmer than its surroundings. It rises to the surface and spews out of craters, creating a mountain of frozen water, ammonia and methanol.

Titan has heat at the core, which is unusual for a moon, and it has water. Heat and water are two essential ingredients of life, and that's reason enough to find out if life has taken hold anywhere else besides Earth.

Cassini was launched in October 1997 to study Saturn and it's moons. He mission is scheduled to continue through 2017.

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