Saturn’s moon Titan could be home to alien life forms that drink “petrol”, scientists have claimed.
They say its minus-179C temperatures could be sustaining organisms that feed on chemicals – mainly methane and ethane.
Scientists have debated what the definition of alien life should be as they examine which eco-systems would be capable of sustaining a living thing, the Daily Star reports.
But few believe extraterrestrial life – if it exists at all – would rely on the same chemicals we have on Earth.
Zoologist Arik Kershenbaum of the University of Cambridge told The News Alerts.“Nasa needs a definition of life so it knows how to build detectors and what kinds of instruments to use on its missions.
“It would be wrong to assume that our familiar biochemistry is what we’re going to find on other planets.”
One school of thought that has emerged is that alien life could be found in “lakes” on the surface of Titan.
Although it is too cold for water, a mission in 2005 revealed that they are made of hydrocarbons similar to petrol.
And one scientist has suggested that there could be life feeding in the petrol lakes.
Planetary scientist Stuart Bartlett of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena told the outlet: “There could be organisms floating in Titan’s atmosphere that essentially drink petrol to sustain themselves.”
Titan has long been considered a promising hunting ground for life in our solar system.
Europa, a moon of Jupiter, is also considered to be a potential breeding ground for alien life.
Nasa and China have both set off on missions to establish whether there has, or is, life on Mars – but the debate over what that life looks like continues.
Astro biologist Lynn Rothschild from Nasa’s Ames research centre told The News Alerts: “You can’t hunt for something if you have no idea what it is.”