Life "not as we know it" might be possible on Saturn's moon Titan. Bring on the methane.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in SETI
Titan is Saturn's methane-covered moon.
"In many respects, Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is one of the most Earth-like worlds we have found to date," says NASA.
But does that make it habitable? One of the most fascinating hypotheses for Titan's habitability came in 2015, when chemical engineers in the US created a template explaining how life on Titan – and other places in the Universe – could be methane-based and oxygen-free.
Their conclusion: life could exist, but it wouldn't look anything like we expect here on Earth.
"We’re not biologists, and we’re not astronomers, but we had the right tools," said Paulette Clancy from Cornell University.
"Perhaps it helped, because we didn’t come in with any preconceptions about what should be in a membrane and what shouldn’t. We just worked with the compounds that we knew were there and asked, 'If this was your palette, what can you make out of that?'"
In other words, they weren't constrained by any pre-existing ideas of how life on Earth works.