Our solar system seems to be shrinking. Planning on moving to Mars? The idea sounded crazy in the past; however, recent strides show that this may become a reality within the near future.
Now evidence has surfaced that a moon within our solar system has more in common with Earth than what may have been originally thought.
One of Saturn’s moons, Titan, was recently discovered to contain a necessary component in the creation of plastic used on Earth. While orbiting Saturn, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft noted that Titan’s atmosphere contains propylene, which is an ingredient in developing plastic needed on earth. Car bumpers, storage containers, eating utensils, and many other items all require propylene.
The discovery was made by NASA prior to the government shutdown through Cassini’s composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) instrument. The spacecraft has been in Saturn’s orbit since 2004, and will continue to orbit the planet until 2017.
Michael Flasar, who serves as the principal CIRS investigator, released a statement where he explained why the discovery was difficult to make, proving the competency of the program.
“This measurement was very difficult to make because propylene’s weak signature is crowded by related chemicals with much stronger signals. This success boosts our confidence that we will find still more chemicals long hidden in Titan’s atmosphere,” Michael Flaser said.
The following is a NASA radar image that Cassini captured depicting two moons “kissing” each other on the surface of Titan. The title of the image is referred to as “Titan’s Kissing Lakes” to substantiate the obvious depiction.
Conor Nixon, who is a NASA planetary scientist, served as the lead author of the research paper that explained this discovery of Titan’s atmosphere. He shared the news with the September 30th issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.
“This chemical is all around us in everyday life, strung together in long chains to form a plastic called polypropylene. That plastic container at the grocery store with the recycling code 5 on the bottom, that’s polypropylene,” Conor Nixon said.
The following video provides more information about Saturn’s moon, Titan, and the connection between Titan’s atmosphere and that of earth’s atmosphere.