content long 24-October-2017 07:57:55

Winners Italy

13-15 years old: The lakes of Titan

Author: Olivia Ghezzi

I have chose Target 2 because I think that it would be extremely useful to lead further researches on its main topic.
Titan is the biggest moon of Saturn, and the second-largest one all over the Solar System. It was discovered long ago in the past, in 1655, by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Hygens.

This moon is made by rocky materials and water ice and, moreover, it has a dense atmosphere largely composed by nitrogen. I found very interesting that it's still the only moon in where has been found a liquid cycle roughly similar to Earth's one. Since Titan is very far from the Sun, the climate over there is really cold, approximately -179° C. For this reason water occurs in solid state. But there are also other liquids, such as ethane and methane, that create a Earth-like landscape with dunes, lakes, seas and rain. This aspect makes me so curious about Titan: as far as we know life can not exist without water, so due to the presence of liquids, life might exist here!

The question that several scientists are asking themselves is whether there is life on Titan but also common people, like me, is daydreaming about it. Consider how many science fiction movies and stories came from here! They appeared for the first time in the story “Flight on Titan”, written by the America novelist Stanley Grauman Weinbaum in 1935. Starting from that moment, lots of other writers and film-producers used those unconventional, unusual characters! There are some researchers who consider life on Titan most unlikely because its surface has no liquid water. On the other hand its dense atmosphere is rich in carbon compounds which make it chemically reactive.

Furthermore, many scientists are thinking that ethane and methane could replace water. Some of them are suggesting that meteor strikes could generate some craters in which liquid water might persist for hundred years, enabling water-based organic chemistry. There are a lot of different ideas, but we still don't know whether they are right or wrong. In my opinion, it might exists some kind of life that doesn't need water to live like us, but we haven't discovered it yet. It doesn't make so much sense that there is life just on Earth: the Universe is huge and I can't accept that we are alone in the Solar System.

Now, thanks to scientific discoveries, we know that the Earth is a geode and that it is not at the center of the Universe. So, why shouldn't search for new life forms in the space? In my opinion, scientists should try to demonstrate that we're not alone. Maybe they won't find complex structures but only simple ones, like bacteria or virus. In any case, it would be incredible and so fascinating!


Last Update: 19 May 2017

For further information please contact: SciTech.editorial@esa.int

Related Articles

See Also