What Tupperware And Saturn's Moon Titan Have In Common
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has detected propylene, a chemical used to create food storage containers and other plastic items, on Saturn's largest moon. It's the first time this chemical has been found anywhere outside of Earth.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
In a report to be published in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters, NASA scientists reveal that the Cassini probe has discovered molecules of propylene in the lower atmosphere on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The discovery is the first involving the spacecraft's Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS), which measures heat radiation coming from planetary bodies. It also clarifies data originally collected from Voyager 1 in 1980: Past scientists were able to determine that hydrocarbons existed in the atmosphere, but they could only identify those with the strongest chemical signals, such as propane.
What's the Big Idea?
If the name "propylene" sounds familiar, it may be because it's a component in polypropylene, a plastic that makes up, among other things, "that plastic container at the grocery store with the recycling code 5 on the bottom," says lead author and NASA planetary scientist Conor Nixon. It's the first time this ingredient has been found anywhere outside of Earth, and scientists are eager to see, with Cassini's help, what other hidden chemicals are located on Titan.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
Scientists have developed new ways of understanding how the biological forces of death drive important life processes.
- Researchers have found new ways on how decomposing plants and animals contribute to the life cycle.
- After a freak mass herd death of 300 reindeer, scientists were able to study a wide range of the decomposition processes.
- Promoting the necrobiome research will open up new areas of inquiry and even commerce.
What do we see from watching birds move across the country?
- A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
- The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
- Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.