Life in the sticky lane

Asphalt lake is full of microbes

6:37am, April 23, 2010

A Caribbean lake of liquid asphalt that makes a comfortable home for a unique mix of microorganisms may provide clues to how life could survive in hydrocarbon lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Titan is the only body in the solar system other than Earth that sports liquid lakes, clouds and rain, a feature that has drawn interest from scientists hunting for alien life. But instead of water, Saturn’s largest moon is awash in liquid methane and ethane — molecules similar to the tar that paves terrestrial streets.

Some scientists think studying Pitch Lake on the island of Trinidad, a lake fueled by oil upwelling from underground, may be the next best thing to dipping a beaker in Titan’s lakes.

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