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NASA finds ingredient commonly used in plastic on Saturn's moon Titan

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    Digital writers

    Monday, September 30, 2013, 4:28 PM -

    NASA's Cassini satellite has discovered propylene -- a chemical used make countless plastic consumer goods -- on Saturn's moon Titan.

    Astronomers say it's the "first definitive detection" of the ingredient on a moon or planet other than Earth.

    "This chemical is all around us in everyday life, strung together in long chains to form a plastic called polypropylene," said Conor Nixon, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in a statement on the NASA website.

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

    Researchers say detecting the chemical was difficult because propylene's weak signature was over-ridden by other chemicals swirling around Titan, but "this success boosts our confidence that we will find still more chemicals long hidden in Titan's atmosphere," said Michael Flasar, Goddard scientist and principal investigator for CIRS via NASA.

    More information on the Cassini mission can be found on the NASA website.

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