Titan and the primordial “soup”

The Cassini-Huygens probe, a project in which ESA and NASA collaborated, left in 1997 heading for Saturn, one of the giants of the external Solar System. After a journey of seven long years, finally it reached its destination, Saturn – Lord of the rings, on first July 2004. The mission consisted in entering Saturn’s orbit and releasing, on 25 December of the same year, the Huygens module, which would have descended on the surface of the satellite Titan with the help of a parachute.
Why Titan? Titan is Saturn’s largest satellite, and in fact it is the only moon of the Solar System that has an atmosphere and scientists believe it is very similar to that of the Earth, before life appeared. Below the atmosphere it is believed that there are oceans of liquid methane and ethane, under a frozen surface.
Titan is the esobiological site par-excellence, of the entire Solar System. A small miniature Earth at the time the first organic molecules appeared, that became the precursors of life on our planet.
In fact the external part of the Solar System, where also Saturn and its satellites are to be found, is the most ancient part of the Solar System and has maintained most of its initial conditions, following the formation of the Sun and the planets. The internal part instead is inhabited by smaller planets, with higher temperatures, whose atmospheres have cancelled many traces of the primordial evolutive phase, preventing us from understanding the chemical and physical course that led to the appearance of life. In the external part of the Solar System, where temperatures are remarkably lower, it is possible to follow these processes directly, as if we were taking a trip back in time, to the beginning of the history of the Earth.

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