Chemistry out of this world

The organic chemistry on Saturn's moon Titan is likely to be rich, but could it harbor the building blocks of life? That's the question scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California hope they might one day answer. The researchers have simulated the Titanic atmosphere and have found regions that could brew up the proverbial primordial soup. Scientists previously thought that as we got closer to the surface of Titan, the moon's atmospheric chemistry was basically inert and dull, explains JPL's Murthy Gudipati. Our experiment shows that's not true. The same kind of light that drives biological chemistry on Earth's surface could also drive chemistry on Titan, even though Titan receives far less light from the sun and is much colder.