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Missing chemicals on Titan could signal life

Methane-based organisms might be consuming the materials

12:20pm, June 9, 2010

Two new studies about the chemical makeup of Titan, Saturn’s hydrocarbon-shrouded moon, raise the possibility that methane-based bacteria might exist on its surface, munching on acetylene and hydrogen.

Newly reported deficits of acetylene and hydrogen could more readily be explained without invoking biology, says astrobiologist Chris McKay of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The findings, he says, may nonetheless have implications for the possibility of life on Titan, which is believed to harbor methane lakes.

One of the new studies, posted online March 15 in Icarus, focuses on a computer

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