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Between long meal breaks, French scientists were able to create and then ionize the simulated atmospheric soup around Titan based upon atmospheric samples Cassini has captured there.
What they found was a mix of surprisingly complex organic chemicals, says Sarah Horst, a graduate student in planetary sciences at the University of Arizona, Tucson, who reported at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences, 7 October in Pasadena, California.
So far, chemical formulas have been assigned to more than 5,000 of these chemicals, although only a few have been fully identified. But five are the five nucleotides used in DNA and RNA, and two are amino acids. Eleven more amino acids may also be in the mix, she said, although these chemicals have not yet been fully analyzed.
This the first I have read about atmospheric DNA and RNA being a potential life soup. The more we learn, the more we learn we don't know—kinda like getting older. Also makes most sci fi feel feeble compared to how far out reality is turning out to be.
Read the rest of the article at either link above and follow @richarddawkins.
Last Edit: Oct 16, 2010 0:03:12 GMT -6 by patrickm