Titan, Saturn’s huge moon houses an ingredient that may lead to life. In a new study published in Science Advances, researchers reported of discovering vinyl cyanide, a complex molecule in the atmosphere of Titan. Cell membranes are crucial for life to form. They are the outer barrier of most cells you can find on Earth. Scientists are thinking vinyl cyanide could be a potential molecule to form cell membranes in Titan’s environment as it’s quite different from our planet.
Lakes of liquid methane
On our planet, cell membranes are made up of some fatty molecules named lipids. Those lipids require water, meaning it’s impossible to form lipids on Saturn’s moon as it’s extremely cold. However, it has lakes of liquid methane, which by teaming up with vinyl cyanide, could help in forming those necessary cell membranes.
The proof of vinyl cyanide on Titan was found by NASA’s Cassini probe, but it couldn’t provide the ultimate measurements. However, in this study, the data scientists used are collected from the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile, which was also found quite a lot of the molecule in Titan’s atmosphere. As methane on Titan apparently moves around like the water on Earth, and rains down periodically from the moon’s sky, researchers think there could be a good chance of vinyl cyanide hanging out in the methane lakes.
It’s still not certain if there’s any kind of cell membrane like structures forming on Saturn’s moon. However, discovering such complex molecules mean researchers should keep studying Titan to find out if there’s a possibility of any sort of life on the moon.