Over at New Scientist, there's an intriguing article about how x-rays from the sun could be stirring up the molecular soup on Saturn's moon Titan - and ultimately create DNA. Recently researchers simulated Titan's atmosphere in the lab to see what it would take for the moon - whose atmosphere makes it similar to Earth in some ways - could ever cook up life as we know it.
Writes New Scientist:
The researchers bombarded the setup with X-rays for up to three days, representing the radiation that Titan would get from the sun over a period of about 7 million years. Afterwards, the still-frozen surface contained some organic compounds, but nothing that could be called the building blocks of life.
But when they heated the samples to room temperature, adenine appeared.
That means Titan's saucepan of proto-life would need a source of extra heat to activate. If there was a warm period in Titan's history, perhaps prompted by volcanic activity or meteoroid impacts, "a primitive life could have had a chance to flourish there", the researchers write.
And Titan is due to be heated up in the next few billion years, when the sun bloats into a red giant star, expanding to the present orbit of Earth, they say.
via New Scientist