Saturn’s frigid moon Titan has long intrigued scientists searching for life in the Solar System. Its surface is coated in organic hydrocarbons, and its icy crust is thought to cover a watery ocean. An asteroid or comet slamming into the moon could theoretically mix these two ingredients, according to a new study, with the resulting impact craters providing an ideal place for life to get started.
The idea is “very exciting,” says Léa Bonnefoy, a planetary scientist and Titan expert at the University of Paris. “If you have a lot of liquid water creating a temporary warm pool on the surface, then you can have conditions that would be favorable for life,” she says. And, “If you have organic material cycling from the surface into the ocean, then that makes the ocean a bit more habitable.”
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