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Space: the final frontier. Our five-pint mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new galaxies and civilisations. To boldly go where no-one has gone before... How are planets formed? Could there be life on the largest moon of Saturn? Join us as we uncover the mysteries of the Universe.
How do you build a planet?
In the past 27 years, the population of known planets orbiting other stars has risen from zero to over four thousand. Despite having such a large number of objects to study, we are still unsure of how these planetary systems came to be. I will discuss the latest research designed to understand the birthplaces of planets – protoplanetary discs. Advanced new telescopes are transforming our view of these discs, providing images of unprecedented detail. Combining these with cutting edge computer models, we are finally close to answering a fundamental question – how are planets formed?
Titan – A Museum of the Earth’s Atmosphere?
Professor Paul Seakins (Professor, Atmospheric and Planetary Chemistry group, University of Leeds)
Titan, the largest moon of Saturn has an atmosphere that resembles Earth’s atmosphere (predominantly nitrogen with some hydrocarbons) before life evolved on Earth and oxygen was produced. The recent Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan has provided unprecedented detail on Titan’s atmosphere and surface. I shall discuss some experiments that we have performed in the laboratory to understand reactions relevant to Titan’s atmosphere that can lead to the formation of biologically relevant molecules such as amino acids.