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Publication . Article . 2005

Possibilities for methanogenic life in liquid methane on the surface of Titan

Christopher P. McKay; Heather Smith;
Open Access
Published: 01 Nov 2005 Journal: Icarus, volume 178, pages 274-276 (issn: 0019-1035, Copyright policy )
Publisher: Elsevier BV

Photochemically produced compounds on Titan, principally acetylene, ethane and organic solids, would release energy when consumed with atmospheric hydrogen, at levels of 334, 57, and 54 kJ mol −1 , respectively. On Earth methanogenic bacteria can survive on this energy level. Here we speculate on the possibility of widespread methanogenic life in liquid methane on Titan. Hydrogen may be the best molecule to show the affects of such life because it does not condense at the tropopause and has no sources or sinks in the troposphere. If life is consuming atmospheric hydrogen it will have a measurable effec to n the hydrogen mixing ratio in the troposphere if the biological consumption is greater than 10 8 cm −2 s −1 . Life could develop strategies to overcome the low solubility of organics in liquid methane and use catalysts to accelerate biochemical reactions despite the low temperature. The results of the recen t Huygens probe could indicate the presence of such life by anomalous depletions of acetylene and ethane as well as hydrogen at the surface.

Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Methane chemistry.chemical_compound chemistry Life on Titan Acetylene Titan (rocket family) symbols.namesake symbols Catalysis Environmental chemistry Troposphere Hydrogen chemistry.chemical_element Astrobiology Solubility


Space and Planetary Science, Astronomy and Astrophysics

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