On the early Earth, marine aerosols could come in two sizes—bacterial and viral—which might have aided the transition from geochemistry to biochemistry, since they are “…energetically capable of asymmetric division.” As reported by D.J.Donaldson. H.Tervahattu and A.F.Tuck (ISSN 1573-0875), such marine aerosols were found to have an exterior film of palmitic, stearic and oleic acids.
EOS.org or October 2017 p. 26 points out that the carbonyl sulfide in a planet’s atmosphere could track photosynthesis, thus suggesting the presence of plant life on exoplanets. More about sniffing atmospheres will be coming when the new telescopes go to work this year.
Science News Sept.2, 2017 reports that the “compound predicted to form membrane-like structures”—vinyl cyanide—is created in Titan’s upper atmosphere and could make flexible bubbles stable in its liquid methane lakes. Such bubbles could act as a shelter for genetic material. Possibly, genes could be made from the carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen detected in the moon’s atmosphere. So far, a vinyl chloride signature has been detected on Titan, but detection of cell-like bubbles would require a probe to sample the moon’s methane seas.
The south pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus is still putting out more than 1000 geysers containing ammonia and organic compounds, including sodium, water, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and hydrogen. These are the kind of chemicals that suggest the moon could be habitable. The geysers contribute to Saturn’s outermost E ring; Enceladus orbits in the E
ring’s densest area.
The moon Titan was found to have a thick yellow haze, which probably consists of broken methane chains. Nitrogen was found in the atmosphere, as were carbon and hydrogen-rich ions and methane rain, with electrified hydrocarbons on the surface.
The basic chemicals suggesting the presence or possibility of life seem to be everywhere in our solar system, but the chemicals that drive even the most primitive critters on Earth are far larger, more complex, and often more fragile. Though the deep sea vents on Earth seem to be the place where life could have had a chance to organize and reproduce, we
need to remember that it took millions of years of friendly conditions to get that going.
Even then, though it was extremely successful and still is, life on Earth got stuck for a long time as simple bacteria and archaea, before those two got together as eukaryotes to produce enough energy to bloom into more complex critters. And that seems to have happened only once here in all of Earth’s 4 + billion years. Perhaps it is complex life
that is rare in the universe. Another reason to get busy taking care of our home planet.
Author of The Archives of Varok
The View Beyond Earth (Book 1.)
The Webs of Varok (Book 2.)
Nautilus Silver Award 2013 YA
ForeWord IBPA finalist 2012 adult SF
The Alien Effect (Book 3.)
An Alien’s Quest (Book 4. Released Nov.21, 2016)
Excerpts, Synopses, Reviews, On Writing, Characters and More-
Reviews of significant books- http://www.goodreads.com/Cary_Neeper
How the Hen House Turns- http://www.ladailypost.com
Complexity, Bio, Bibliography and Links- http://caryneeper.com
Astrobiology- http://astronaut.com search:Who’s Out There