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February 13, 2008 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Titan find - The hydrocarbon lakes on Saturn’s moon may contain hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all of Earths known oil and natural gas reserves.
posted by Artw (54 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also quite cool - Iapetus, the weird two tone moon.
posted by Artw at 8:13 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


No shit! If Titan has an atmosphere that supports burning them, it could be a good choice for colonization.
posted by Electrius at 8:14 PM on February 13, 2008


Oil that is, black gold, Titan Tea.
posted by Tube at 8:14 PM on February 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


This should enable Space Truckin', at last.
posted by Rumple at 8:17 PM on February 13, 2008


I'm suddenly reminded of the Tantalus myth.
posted by sourwookie at 8:18 PM on February 13, 2008


Arthur C. Clark predicted this back in Imperial Earth from the late 70s. Amazing.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:23 PM on February 13, 2008


I'm suddenly reminded of the Echo myth.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:25 PM on February 13, 2008


That's a lot of decomposed dinosaurs.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:26 PM on February 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


Awesome! Now we've got a good excuse to invade and exterminate any life we find there!
posted by contraption at 8:28 PM on February 13, 2008


Well, all we need to do is hand out some no-bid contracts to Haliburton, who I'm sure would quote the government a fair price, and they'll have the stuff here in no time! So long, peak oil!
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:28 PM on February 13, 2008


Seems like there's a slight problem to overcome, in terms of transportation...

I seem to remember reading that Europa has an atmosphere that contains oxygen, although I don't know at what concentration. (Wikipedia says that "At equivalent pressure to Earth's atmosphere at sea level, Europa's oxygen would 'fill only about a dozen Houston Astrodomes'" so maybe that's not such a good option.) I wonder if you could get a positive net energy gain by electrolytically separating saltwater, hypothesized to be on Europa also, and then reacting the liberated oxygen with hydrocarbons from elsewhere.

Methane and other hydrocarbons seem like they're not all that rare in our solar system, anyway; the amount of oxygen to react it with may well be the limiting reagent for powering interplanetary missions.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:28 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Europas off-limits. Attempt no landings there.
posted by Artw at 8:34 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Awesome! Now we've got a good excuse to invade and exterminate any life we find there!

You mean we will go evacuate them to heaven? Democracy rolls on!
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:36 PM on February 13, 2008


Great... now more idiots will say "Environmentalism is daft, we'll all (being, of course, the richest 'all' of us) colonise space.

And they'll only be a few orders of magnitude away from feasibility....
posted by pompomtom at 8:36 PM on February 13, 2008


At last, we've found the Sirens of Titan.
posted by Eekacat at 8:39 PM on February 13, 2008


1. Mine thousands of tons of hydrocarbons from Titan.
2. Send it all to Mars.
3. Burn it.
4. Global Warming is a good thing! (For some other value of "globe.")
posted by thecaddy at 8:43 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have also heard that there is a gigantic fusion generator somewhere nearby that's continuously supplying the solar system with free wireless energy. Maybe we should look into that.
posted by Pyry at 8:44 PM on February 13, 2008 [33 favorites]


Sounds like it's time for some regime change on Saturn. I hear they've got WMDs and helped plan 9/11!
posted by Afroblanco at 8:46 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pyry writes "I have also heard that there is a gigantic fusion generator somewhere nearby that's continuously supplying the solar system with free wireless energy. Maybe we should look into that."

Also, we're all sitting on a gigantic ball of molten metal!
posted by mullingitover at 8:55 PM on February 13, 2008


Pyry writes "I have also heard that there is a gigantic fusion generator somewhere nearby that's continuously supplying the solar system with free wireless energy. Maybe we should look into that."

I'm working on a primary fusion reactor heat exchanger right now.
posted by Mitheral at 9:03 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Who wants to build one of these?
posted by OldReliable at 9:10 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Electrius: No shit! If Titan has an atmosphere that supports burning them, it could be a good choice for colonization.

If Titan had an atmosphere that supported burning them, they'd have been set on fire aeons ago by some random meteor. Good try, though.

It turns out that the Earth's oxidizing atmosphere is actually a real rarity - it is actually biogenic, and biologically maintained. Without life to sustain it, Earth would have an atmosphere that was slightly to moderately reducing. It turns out that molecular oxygen is quite unstable (lots of stuff including many rocks oxidize) and is thus more of a rarity in space than free hydrocarbons.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:19 PM on February 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


Good grief.

Once you humans hear "hydrocarbon" the first bloody thing you think of is burning them.

Extraterrestrial hydrocarbons = raw material for cell membranes, a way to allow a little bypass of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, leading to the potentiality of "life" (as we currently know it), nevermind CHON food.

hmm, so does the definition of life = an unexpected convergence of anti-2nd law order, allowing for replication, and so on and so forth? If so, what's the arbitrary minimum amount of cohesion?

posted by porpoise at 9:24 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


If we don't fight the terrorists on Titan, we'll have to fight them here.
posted by klangklangston at 9:30 PM on February 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


*cough*
posted by ninjew at 9:30 PM on February 13, 2008


This is super-awesomely excellent because it might inspire some future Serious Space Industry. It's horrible for our environmental future.

Oil planet.
posted by blacklite at 9:46 PM on February 13, 2008


porpoise: Extraterrestrial hydrocarbons = raw material for cell membranes, a way to allow a little bypass of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, leading to the potentiality of "life" (as we currently know it),

Well, let's get one thing straight - life does not bypass the second law of thermodynamics. The ultimate source of the entropy created that allows you to exist is inside the core of the sun, so it is easy to miss. In fact, you rely on the second law of thermodynamics to exist - on a very fundamental level, you are an entropy machine.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:54 PM on February 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


"In fact, you rely on the second law of thermodynamics to exist - on a very fundamental level, you are an entropy machine."

"And that, officer, is why I was taking a shit in the mall fountain."
posted by klangklangston at 9:59 PM on February 13, 2008 [25 favorites]


goddamn! i'm getting me a hummer and a shitload of lights for next xmas right now! yeah! wait til those ay-rabs find out that we don't need their fucking oil no more!
posted by pyramid termite at 10:08 PM on February 13, 2008


How's the rent?
posted by krinklyfig at 10:18 PM on February 13, 2008


the rent's really low, but it's hell trying to find a decent expresso or a good cell-phone signal there
posted by pyramid termite at 10:35 PM on February 13, 2008


The expresso may suck, but there's plenty of polydichloric euthimal if you know the right people.
posted by homunculus at 11:05 PM on February 13, 2008


sweet, nourishing hydrocarbons.
posted by MillMan at 11:15 PM on February 13, 2008


Hmm... If we send all the industrialists off to Europa, maybe our planet will become habitable again by the time they asphyxiate.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:26 PM on February 13, 2008


Yay. Now bring me more squarepig.
posted by loquacious at 12:03 AM on February 14, 2008


Chevron will get there, and what's the bet there will be either a peaceful race of aliens minding their own business, or an religious tribe of fundamentals.
posted by mattoxic at 3:07 AM on February 14, 2008


or, even better tribe of religious fundamentalists.
posted by mattoxic at 3:08 AM on February 14, 2008


Once you humans hear "hydrocarbon" the first bloody thing you think of is burning them.

Embrace your fire lust - - Burn 'em!!!
posted by fairmettle at 3:14 AM on February 14, 2008


Once you humans hear "hydrocarbon" the first bloody thing you think of is burning them.


The Hydrocarbon Mapping Project is a Google Maps mashup with refinery and well locations.....
posted by mattoxic at 3:20 AM on February 14, 2008


And yet the abiotic theory for the origin of oil on Earth is apparently a load of tosh.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 3:28 AM on February 14, 2008


espresso. espresso.
posted by empyrean at 4:05 AM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mitrovarr, the correlation of oxygen with life isn't particularly amazing, as oxygen itself is not conducive to the spontaneous generation of life, as you said it's quite oxidizing. It's much more likely for life to occur in an anaerobic or near-anaerobic (like say, Europa) atmosphere, and then generate the oxygen which more complex life forms are later dependent on, itself. So our oxygen-rich atmosphere may be a rarity, but it's certainly not a coincidence.
posted by mek at 4:37 AM on February 14, 2008


And yet the abiotic theory for the origin of oil on Earth is apparently a load of tosh.

There's a truth for Earth and a truth for Titan, Hank. Just like how Jerry Lewis is a loudmouthed old hack in America, but in France he's a GENIUS!
posted by briank at 6:40 AM on February 14, 2008


Has Exxon Mobil has started negotiations to buy NASA yet? Sounds like a great way for them to use their record profits.
posted by aught at 7:17 AM on February 14, 2008


Please send Dick Cheney to investigate.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:40 AM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Once you humans hear "hydrocarbon" the first bloody thing you think of is burning them.

Damn right, once those hydrocarbons become sentient, you just know they are coming for us. If the movies have taught me anything, we need to make a first strike before we are all eaten or infected by alien goo.
posted by quin at 11:11 AM on February 14, 2008


Sometimes they just sit there, in a big sentient lake.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on February 14, 2008


And sometimes that sentient lake runs the motherfucking Dominion.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:22 AM on February 14, 2008


Breaking news - the Bush administration has it on good authority that Mighty Lord Brgleflatz, Ruler of All Saturn, has attempted to obtain yellowcake from Charon with the intent of developing Interplanetary Death Rays of Vogon Poetry and Mass Destruction (IDRVPMD). Also, his regime has close links to Xenu of the Galactic Confederation. Let's roll!
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:29 PM on February 14, 2008


Good thing all this oil isn't on Europa.
We're not allowed to go there.
posted by Fupped Duck at 3:23 PM on February 14, 2008


*cough*

We've done that one.
posted by Artw at 3:25 PM on February 14, 2008


What does this discovery suggest about the biological or non-biologcal origin of petroluem in the earth's crust?
posted by Faze at 5:57 PM on February 14, 2008


What does this discovery suggest about the biological or non-biologcal origin of petroluem in the earth's crust?
posted by Faze at 5:59 PM on February 14, 2008


What does this discovery suggest about the biological or non-biologcal origin of petroluem in the earth's crust?

Not a lot. Earth has complex crude oils of biological origin. Titan has simple abiotic methane and is so cold that much of that methane is in liquid form.

Methane can be produced by both biological processes, such as anaerobic decay of biomass, and by abiotic chemical reactions. Presumably Earth is the former, Titan the later.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:14 PM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


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