NASA scientists have definitively detected the chemical acrylonitrile in the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan, a place that has long intrigued scientists investigating the chemical precursors of life.
On Earth, acrylonitrile, also known as vinyl cyanide, is useful in the manufacture of plastics. Under the harsh conditions of Saturn’s largest moon, this chemical is thought to be capable of forming stable, flexible structures similar to cell membranes
Cassini is now on it’s way towards it’s grand and ultimately destructive finale! Using Saturn’s largest Moon titan to fling it into a polar orbit between Saturn’s ring and it’s outer atmosphere it will complete 22 weekly obits of Saturn before plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15th
Although only a sliver of Saturn’s sunlit face is visible in this view, the mighty gas giant planet still dominates the view.
From this vantage point just beneath the ring plane, the dense B ring becomes dark and essentially opaque, letting almost no light pass through. But some light reflected by the planet passes through the less dense A ring, which appears above the B ring in this photo. The C ring, silhouetted just below the B ring, lets almost all of Saturn’s reflected light pass right through it, as if it were barely there at all. The F ring appears as a bright arc in this image, which is visible against both the backdrop of Saturn and the dark sky.
I’m trying to keep up with ESA’s images, as my regular bloggies would know I used to post this every week but I’m slacking nowadays. This weeks images show cyclone Debbie, Supernova remnant SNR 0509-68.7 and ESA’s ExoMars Rover.
Cassini made it’s closest pass yet to Pandora – one of Saturn’s moons. There’s not much in the way of a box of mysteries here but it’s made for an interesting close look at moon that we know little about.