The ‘Cassini’ robotic probe that’s currently exploring moons belonging to Saturn has stumbled upon propylene, a chemical that’s used to create plastics such as Tupperware, on the Titan moon, NASA has revealed.
An in-depth report on Cassini’s findings on Titan have been published in this month’s Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The European Space Agency, NASA and the Italian Space Agency (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana) are behind Cassini.
According to Conor Nixon, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the paper, this is chemical is all around us in everyday life.
He said it is strung together in long chains to form a plastic called polypropylene.
The Cassini spacecraft launched in October 1997 with the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe. It landed on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, in January 2005.
The Cassini Solstice mission started in 2010 and will run until 2017.
Last December astronomers used images NASA’s Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn to reveal an infrared heat pattern on the icy moon Tethys that was shaped like the famous video-game icon Pac-Man.
NASA, meanwhile, no longer has a digital portal tto communicate the work of its scientists on the ground, and in far-flung places such as Antarctica.
When you try log on to www.nasa.org today, you will be met with this: