According to an index developed by Astrobiologists at Washington State University, Saturn’s moon Titan is in a better position to support life than Mars (what? you’re surprised pop culture got this one wrong?). The index, which scores planetary bodies on their suitability for life, ranked Titan second to Earth and ahead of Mars. The research took into account a number of factors including the presence of solid a surface (no gaseous planets allowed), the average surface temperature and the strength of a planet’s magnetosphere (which helps shield it from cosmic radiation).
Titan’s place on the index even came as a surprise to some science buffs, possibly because its hydrocarbon lakes and typical temperature of -178C would suggest that it would be, umm, inhospitable. However, lead researcher, Dirk Schulze-Makuch explained that the ranking made perfect sense: “If you think about it (ed note: who hasn’t?), Titan has a thick protective atmosphere like Earth’s… it has a lot of nitrogen and methane in it, and Titan has hydrocarbon lakes, energy sources. There’s a lot of possibility on Titan – if you objectively evaluate the possibility of life on Titan,” he told MSNBC.com.
So, is there life on Titan? Poor old David Bowie has got his work cut out for him.