Life as We Don't Know It? Experts Say It's Possible on Titan

March 3, 2015 12:02 AM

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Life as we know it requires water, but could an environment without H2O give rise to life as we don't know it? Scientists say it's theoretically possible, in a place that's as close as Titan, a smog-shrouded moon of Saturn that has seas containing hydrocarbons instead of water. Cornell University researchers say Titan's nitrogen-based chemistry could give rise to types of membranes as suitable for cellular life as Earth's lipid-based membranes.

In Friday's issue of the open-access journal Science Advances, Cornell's James Stevenson, Paulette Clancy and Jonathan Lunine lay out the case for the theoretical existence of "azotosomes," cell membranes that could be made from nitrogen, carbon and hydrogen. The most promising constituent is acrylo...

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