Mission Prometheus Experiments
Mission prometheus Experiments
The bulk of all experiments to be conducted are aimed at proving the existance, the past existance, or the potential future existance of life on Titan. There are two major experiments that have been proposed: The "nutrients test" by EEP Commander Brian Foo, and the "test for life" by Mission Commander Crystal Xiao.
Test for Nutrients
We know that Titan is quite volcanically active, as there are active volcanoes dotting the surface of Titan, emmitting puffs of stuff. However, the truely interesting thing about the volcanoes is that, instead of throwing up molten rock, they eject a mixture of water, ammonia, and other organic hydrocarbons. This has led scientists to believe that he liquid mantle of Titan is not of liquid rock, but of liquid water. If we could prove this, it would be an amazing find, since it has been commonly accepted that liquid, running water is the most important pre-requisite for life. In addition, if the liquid water is infused with other basic organic compounds, as we have speculated, then the conditions would be ripe for life to start.
This would make Titan the only other solar body that has an abundance of liquid water, besides Earth.
We plan to drill through the relatively thin crust of Titan using our Robot, named Robbie. We will then use a probe to extract a sample of Titan's liquid core. Once this sample is retrieved, we will retourn it to the hotlab for analysis.
We plan to test the extracted sample for the following compounds:
-Basic properties (acidity, temperature, salinity, etc.) -Ammonia -Alkanes and Alkanes -Protiens -Amino Acids -Fats, and lipids -Sugars -Bacteriological/microbial life
Ammonia is a very important organic compound that could have been one of the required chemicals to start life. To test for ammonia, we can mix it wit a chemical known as Nessler's solution. Nessler's solution is a reagent, which is that it will react in a very distinct manner to one chemical only, thus indicating the presence of that chemical. Nessler's reagent will turn a bright yellow colour when reacted with any trace amounts of amonia.
Alkanes and Alkenes
Alkanes and alkenes are groups of very, very important organic compounts that could also have been some of the essential elements needed to spark life. The proposed test for alkanes and alkenes will involve burning the samples in a pure oxygen environment and analysing the resulting amounts of water and CO2 produced in order to determine the chemical compound of the tested substance. Since burning unknown substances with an open flame in a pure oxygen environment is dangerous and impractical, we will create a special "combustion chamber" to perform the task for the astronauts and will present them in the end with quantities of CO2 gas and water which the astronauts will use to determine the chemical structure of the compound (ie we will get the astronauts to put the sample in a bax and a simulator will whisk the test tube away and replace it wil 2 test tubes of water and CO2)
Protiens are very, very, VERY important to living things. In any living organisms, protiens literally "do" everything within the organism- they are responsible for communicating between cells, and controlling the chemical reactions within the body. Protiens literally make up all of the "moving parts" of the body. The presence for protiens will almost conclusively confirm the presence of life on Titan, since they are synthesized by living things, and not normally found naturally. To test for protiens, we use Biuret's reagent. Biuret's reagent, in the presence of protiens, will turn purple.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protiens, and DNA. This element is another important organic compound that is needed for life to occur. To test for amino acids, we use a strip of Whatman No. 4 chromatography paper. This paper will change colours, according to what amino acids are present.
Lipids and fats
Lipids and fats are an important part of life. Lipis make up all of the walls and membranes of cells. The reason that this is important is that any form of early, single-celled life will need something to keep its internal structure from floating away, and something to keep unwanted stuff out. Lipids perform this task admirably. To test for lipids, we use another reagent called Sudan IV. This substance will turn red in the presence of lipids.
Sugars are the fuel that all life burns. Since sugar never occurs naturally, the presence of sugars would conclusively prove the existance of life. To test for sugars, we use another reagent, called Bennedict's reagent. This test is only good for one type of sugar, called monosacharides. To test for another common sugar, called startch, we need to use another reagent, called Lugol's Iodine solution, which will turn purplein the presence of startch.
Test for Life
This test will be to confirm whether life is present of Titan. To do this, we will attempt to "cultivate" Titan-bacteria in a nutrient-rich environment, and attempt to observe any activities by observing for any tell-tale signs of metabolism (ie increased CO2 levels), and the visual signs of bacteriological colonies.