Nasa finds plastic on Saturn moon

2013-10-01 16:03
Saturn's moon Titan (orange, in background) seems to have lakes of methane near the equator, as well as at the poles. ( NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Saturn's moon Titan (orange, in background) seems to have lakes of methane near the equator, as well as at the poles. ( NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Houston - Nasa's Cassini spacecraft has found propylene, a chemical used to make household plastic containers, on Saturn's moon Titan, the space agency said.

"This is the first definitive detection of the plastic ingredient on any moon or planet, other than Earth," Nasa said.

A small amount of propylene was identified in Titan's lower atmosphere by Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer, which measures heat radiation, the agency reported in Monday's edition of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

By isolating the same signal at various altitudes within the lower atmosphere, researchers identified the chemical's unique thermal fingerprint with a high degree of confidence, Nasa said.

"This chemical is all around us in everyday life, strung together in long chains to form a plastic called polypropylene," said Conor Nixon, a scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the paper.

"That plastic container at the grocery store with the recycling code 5 on the bottom - that's polypropylene."

The chemical is also used to make car bumpers and other consumer products.

The discovery could help scientists understand the "chemical zoo" that makes up Titan's hazy brownish atmosphere, said Scott Edgington, Cassini's deputy project scientist at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a co-operative project of Nasa, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.

Read more on:    esa  |  nasa  |  us  |  space

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.