MY AMERICAN SCIENTIST
LOG IN! REGISTER!
SEARCH
 
RSS
Logo IMG
HOME > PAST ISSUE > Article Detail

MARGINALIA

Old Gas, New Gas

Methane—made and taken apart by microbes, in the Earth, by people

Roald Hoffmann

Meanwhile, Back on Titan

In early 2005...Click to Enlarge Image

Just about a year ago, on January 14, 2005, the European Space Agency's Huygens probe completed a one-way, 4-billion-kilometer journey to Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The temperature there on the surface is around -179 degrees, cold enough that methane is a liquid. If  you look at some of the startling images sent back by Huygens you can see river-like channels that were probably carved by streams of the stuff. Why methane? After nitrogen, it's the most abundant component of Titan's atmosphere, and a heated sample of the Titan soil released a puff of it.

So where does Titan's methane come from? People think it's that serpentinization reaction mentioned earlier.





» Post Comment

 

EMAIL TO A FRIEND :

Of Possible Interest

Feature Article: Engineered Molecules for Smarter Medicines

Perspective: Little Interactions Mean a Lot

Spotlight: In the News

Subscribe to American Scientist