NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Finds Plastic Ingredient Propylene on Titan

Posted on September 30, 2013

Saturn's moon Titan


NASA's Cassini spacecraft has found propylene, an ingredient of household plastic, on Saturn's moon Titan. NASA says this is the first definitive detection of the plastic ingredient on any moon or planet, other than Earth. A small amount of propylene was identified in Titan's lower atmosphere by Cassini's Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS).

Conor Nixon, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and author of the research paper published here in Astrophysical Journal Letters, says in a statement, "This chemical is all around us in everyday life, strung together in long chains to form a plastic called polypropylene. That plastic container at the grocery store with the recycling code 5 on the bottom -- that's polypropylene."

Nixon explains the discovery in this NASA video. Take a look:



Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute