Saturn’s moon, Titan, may have a building block for potential cell membranes.
Saturn’s moon, Titan, is hiding a chemical on its surface which has the possibility of creating the basis for life. Acrylonitrile is unique as it is an ingredient that can form structures similar to cell membranes, but it's tough enough to survive Titan's harsh conditions. Using data collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, NASA researchers identified the fingerprint of acrylonitrile in Titan's upper atmosphere. They believe that it has rained out onto the surface of Saturn as well, collecting in Titan's hydrocarbon lakes. Scientists speculate that in abundance, acrylonitrile can create a stable, spherical membrane that can foster life and protect it against Titan’s freezing surface. The findings expand our understanding of the chemical complexity of the solar system and the potential for life in the universe. Watch the video to learn more.