NASA detects "strange molecule" in Titan's atmosphere

NASA Scientists Find A Molecule In Titan's Atmosphere They Have Never Found In The Atmospheres Of Others

planets. The researchers point out that this is cyclopropenylidene or C3H2. Scientists argue that this simple carbon-based molecule could be the precursor to more complex compounds that could form or fuel possible life on Titan.

Researchers discovered C3H2 usingradio telescopic observatory in northern Chile - Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA). In the thinned upper layers, high above the surface, they discovered the spectrum of an unknown compound. Comparing it with a database of chemical profiles, scientists determined that it is cyclopropenylidene - an extremely rare carbon-based molecule, obtained on Earth only in laboratory conditions. It cannot exist for a long time in atmospheric conditions, because it very easily reacts with other molecules, forming more complex compounds.

“When I realized I was looking at cyclopropenylidene,my first thought was that it was very unexpected, ”said Conor Nixon, planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who led the search. The results appeared in the Astronomical Journal.

NASA also noted that cyclopropenylidenecan easily react with other molecules and form other types of substances. Until now, astronomers have only found C3H2 in the clouds of gas and dust that lie between stellar systems - regions too cold and diffuse to form many chemical reactions.

This connection for scientists is a specialinterest because its ring-shaped molecules of three carbon atoms may have once become the building blocks for the more complex organic molecules that once led to life on Earth. It is known that the nitrogenous bases of DNA and RNA are based on such molecular rings.

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