Are You Ready for a Methane Breathing Neighbor Right Here in our Own Solar System. Clue, they’re not Martians

Are you ready to meet a new life form that may have existed among us in our own solar system? Scientists believe that they are very different to life on earth.

They don’t breathe oxygen like us, surviving and reproducing just like we do here on earth but they exist on a different kind of medium which is no other than methane based, according to researchers.

This kind of life forms could exist in the bleak and icy atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. This is what chemical engineers and astronomers believe.

Since Titan practically wallows in oceans made of methane gas, they deduced that in the moon there live methane sufficient and oxygen-free life forms.

These unique creations are made from organic nitrogen compounds and have the capacity of surviving in liquid methane temperature which is 292 degrees below zero.

The research was under the leadership of Professor Paulette Clancy, a molecular and dynamics expert together with James Stevenson, a graduate student in chemical engineering at Cornell University in the US.

Prof Clancy said: “We’re not biologists, and we’re not astronomers, but we had the right tools.

“Perhaps it helped, because we didn’t come in with any preconceptions about what should be in a membrane and what shouldn’t.

“We just worked with the compounds that we knew were there and asked, ‘If this was your palette, what can you make out of that?'”

Life form here on Earth as we know it is based on water membrane that hosts the organic matter in each of the cells. Astronomers usually focus their attention in finding livable places where survival depends on water.   This time, the scientists tried to vary their approach and tried looking for life that is compatible with methane, which has a very low freezing point.

The engineers christened their hypothesized cell membrane an “azotosome” – “azote” which is French word means nitrogen. “Azotosome” means “nitrogen body.”

The azotosome is composed of nitrogen, carbon and hydrogen molecules which are abundant in the oceans of Titan. The chemical engineers were searching for compounds that are self-sufficient in congregating themselves into membrane-like forms a requirement for cellular life in order to exist.

The most critical compound they have discovered so far is an acrylonitrile type of azotosome, which exhibits an excellent stability in stopping putrefaction, and has the ability comparable to those of phospholipid membranes found here on Earth.

Prof Clancy revealed that next, they will try to show how these cells would react in the methane surrounding and how they would replicate in an oxygen-based habitat.

Mr. Stevenson for his part said he got his inspiration from science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, who wrote about the concept of non-water-based life in a 1962 essay, “Not as We Know It.”

He added: “Ours is the first concrete blueprint of life not as we know it.”

The research was published in the journal Science Advances.

 

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