Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Score One For The Oozers.........


Yes, the Oozers- remember the whole "people who believe that we all evolved from the primordial ooze are just zeaolus hypocrites with no real science to base their theories on"?

Yeah, me neither.

Anyways, check out this latest report from the folks at the Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn- they are reporting on the data from Cassini which just completed its closest fly-by to Titans since they dropped the Huygens probe-

Organic Materials Spotted High Above Titan's Surface

April 25, 2005
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Cassini's Views of Titan
During its closest flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on April 16, the Cassini spacecraft came within 1,027 kilometers (638 miles) of the moon's surface and found that the outer layer of the thick, hazy atmosphere is brimming with complex hydrocarbons.

Scientists believe that Titan's atmosphere may be a laboratory for studying the organic chemistry that preceded life and provided the building blocks for life on Earth. The role of the upper atmosphere in this organic "factory" of hydrocarbons is very intriguing to scientists, especially given the large number of different hydrocarbons detected by Cassini during the flyby.

Titan's Upper Atmosphere: A "factory" of hydrocarbons
Cassini's ion and neutral mass spectrometer detects charged and neutral particles in the atmosphere. It provides scientists with valuable information from which to infer the structure, dynamics and history of Titan's atmosphere. Complex mixtures of hydrocarbons and carbon- nitrogen compounds were seen throughout the range of masses measured by the Cassini ion and neutral mass spectrometer instrument. "We are beginning to appreciate the role of the upper atmosphere in the complex carbon cycle that occurs on Titan," said Dr. Hunter Waite, principal investigator of the Cassini ion and neutral mass spectrometer and professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "Ultimately, this information from the Saturn system will help us determine the origins of organic matter within the entire solar system."

Hydrocarbons containing as many as seven carbon atoms were observed, as well as nitrogen- containing hydrocarbons (nitriles). Titan's atmosphere is composed primarily of nitrogen, followed by methane, the simplest hydrocarbon. The nitrogen and methane are expected to form complex hydrocarbons in a process induced by sunlight or energetic particles from Saturn's magnetosphere. However, it is surprising to find the plethora of complex hydrocarbon molecules in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. Titan is very cold, and complex hydrocarbons would be expected to condense and rain down to the surface.

"Biology on Earth is the primary source of organic production we are familiar with, but the key question is: what is the ultimate source of the organics in the solar system?" added Waite.

Interstellar clouds produce abundant quantities of organics, which are best viewed as the dust and grains incorporated in comets. This material may have been the source of early organic compounds on Earth from which life formed. Atmospheres of planets and their satellites in the outer solar system, while containing methane and molecular nitrogen, are largely devoid of oxygen. In this non-oxidizing environment under the action of ultraviolet light from the Sun or energetic particle radiation (from Saturn's magnetosphere in this case), these atmospheres can also produce large quantities of organics, and Titan is the prime example in our solar system. This same process is a possible pathway for formation of complex hydrocarbons on early Earth.

This was Cassini's sixth flyby of Titan, but its exploration has just begun. Thirty-nine more flybys of this strange, remote world are planned during Cassini's nominal mission. The next Titan flyby is August 22.

Carolina Martinez (818) 354-9382
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Congrats as usual to the folks at JPL. I, for one, welcome our new hydrocarbon overlords. And you can all shut up now about the "oozer" stuff. We have umbrellas floating in actual ooze billions of miles away. When "Intelligent Design/Creationism" flies an umbrella to heaven, or wherever the intelligent designers are, they we can compare and contrast ooze. Until then, stop standing in the doorway.

No, I'm not avoiding posting about this weekend with Miss Nastily.

Just some things don't need to be posted about, that's all. Do I sound enough like Morgan Freeman yet? No?


The woman turns me to mush, what can I say.......

"I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams....I hope.....".....

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