It’s a question that is now making the rounds ever since a series of discoveries hinted that there could indeed be life on the moon of Saturn. The news is rippling through the scientific community like a freight train, and many people are now saying it’s a real enough possibility to make further explorations a point of interest. Needless to say, if life were confirmed on Titan it would be the single greatest discovery of the 21st century so far. Some suggest it could be the greatest discovery of all time barring none.
The Cassini space probe has picked up data suggesting there is actually a process going on somewhere on the mysterious moon where life is thought to possibly exist. The process suggests that in addition to forces creating compounds, somewhere within it these compounds are also being “consumed” meaning readings are not picking up exactly where they are going, but they are being converted or otherwise disappearing to other compounds. Such activity suggests there may actually be life on Titan. John Zarnecki, a professor at the Open University said “We belive the chemistry is there for life to form. It just needs heat and warmth to kick-start the process. In four billion years, it could be a paradise on Titan.”
The process is suggested by scientists to indicate some sort of ecosystem is currently giving NASA scientists a chance to take a second look at what may be beneath the surface of Titan’s shell. Data previously gathered suggests the core beneath Titan’s surface is actually an ocean of liquid water. Conditions there have been compared to the inside of a geyser such as Old Faithful in Yellowstone, which is one of the possible locations suggested to have made life on Earth possible. The insides of Titan may not actually be inhabitable for humans, but that doesn’t mean microbes could not have evolved specifically in the core of this planet as well. There have even been suggestions that something far larger than a microbe may have evolved within the confines of this inner world.
The discovery of microbial life alone may not be of great significance, but the fact that two separate entities could develop life independently of one another is of considerable statistical significance. The implications of life developing on both Earth and Titan would mean first that Earth was not a fluke in the development of life on its surface, but it would also mean that another planet (one of only a few dozen total substantial objects in this system) would also develop life on it as well. If this were the case, we would then be forced to look at how likely this seemed to be given the two points of data. Of course it wouldn’t be until the third or fourth planet discovered with life on it that we would be able to finally get a clear picture of how common life really was in the universe. Of course distance is one of the hurdles that must be overcome first. Still, if life or “pre-life” were discovered on Titan conclusively, there’s no way of predicting how significant an impact it would have on the scientific community.