Boffins are working on a cunning new plan to power future hot-air-balloon probe craft sent to survey Titan, ice moon of Saturn. The balloons' burners will be fuelled by the evaporated patio gas which occurs naturally in the Titanian atmosphere. The Titan hot-air balloon system in action. Credit: Aurora Flight Sciences Flying …
Can't wait for someone to miss something small and make Titan explode.
What do you say after you've blown up a moon ...
'I forgot that Oxygen would re-act with 'Chemical X' and start a chain re-action that resulted in the explosion of Titan', after the moon had exploded, there was a correction in the orbits of all solar system bodies, causing the earth to edge nearer the sun and accelerate the global warming problem. We've got 6 months to live.
What do you say after you've blown up Titan?
But, seriously, what do I say? How about "Somebody get Keck, Palomar, Mount Wilson and HST pointed at Titan, pronto!"
Most excellent! Good for you.. but how depressing that El Reg's (limited... but it is, after all, a tad OT for IT per se) science coverage is better written and more informative than other online popular science rags.
Any chance you could explain dimensional compactification in string theory?
Is butane and/or propane, neither of which vaporises in Titanian conditions.
As for exploring the place, can't we just drop the tedious Bear Grylls on the moon and see if he can survive using nothing more than a block of frozen hexane and his underpants?
Re: Bottled gas
I quote NASA:
"Titan's atmosphere is extremely rich in an assortment of hydrocarbon chemicals, including propane, which we use to fill our barbecue tanks," said Cassini scientist Conor Nixon.
Yes patio gas does vapourise in Titanian conditions.
And further. There is such a thing as Compressed Natural Gas (methane in a bottle) here on Earth. Admittedly it is mainly used for cars in South America not barbecues in Blighty.
So there. Don't rain on my parade with your not-propane rain, mister.
Ok I'm confused. Everytime I see one of these stories about hydrocarbons on other planets I get the same question in my head, and I've not been able to find a reasonable answer.
In high-school I was taught that all hydrocarbons are organic in origin and come from rotting dinosaurs (para-phrasing somewhat). As far as I can understand this is the whole argument behind the "Peak Oil" lobby.
And then you have planets that have atmospheres / oceans full of mostly hydrocarbons. Where did all these hydrocarbons come from? I'm kinda skeptical about them coming from rotting dinosaurs. So these extraterrestrial hydrocarbons must have an inorganic (non-fossil) origin.
So if we have inorganic hydrocarbons on other planets, why is it that all the hydrocarbons on Earth "have" to be organic?
Where am I going wrong? Can anybody provide a link to somewhere that can de-confuse me?
most interesting place in the solar system
Yup, it's just difficult as hell to get there. IMHO it's the real place to look for exo-life, and Mars is a waste of time.
El Reg's science coverage rocks. You get all the stuff right, and you don't dumb it down. Thanks, guys.
Do they absolutely need a pilot light that continuously uses fuel? I'm guessing flint and steel would still make a spark, or they could use electric ignition?
"Hot-"air" droid gasbag probes for patio-gas iceworld"
I chuckled at this one. Haha, one of the best so far this year!
how does the amount of hydrocarbons on titan compare to earth?
[Insert Witty Title Here]
While it sounds like a good idea, like any typical source of patio/bbq-gas, the moment the probe gets there and tries to start burning the stuff, they'll find all the gas has suddenly vanished, leaving someone to have to dash down to the local service station for a refill.
Bear Grylls off camera
As for exploring the place, can't we just drop the tedious Bear Grylls on the moon and see if he can survive using nothing more than a block of frozen hexane and his underpants?"
No good, Grylls wont do any real survival treks without a local hotel booking so he can relax off camera.
so back to the real titan mood, its got likes of earth like stuff going on, its just bloody cold
, so are they going to finally do the right thing and put LOTS of tiny autobots that can do MANY things including find and mine ANY H2O bricks or perhaps if their lucky mush after a little mini greenhouse warming and collect and process that for long term use etc.
Titanian army statement:
The objects found at Lake Roswell were not parts of an alien ship - they were scraps of a balloon.
In other news, the Titanian Space Agency has announced a plan to send a probe to the third planet, which is characterized by a curious mix of very high gravity and low atmospheric density that poses significant technical challenges. The design involves use of a balloon which will carry propane (instead of oxygen), because the local atmosphere contains almost no hydrocarbons but is quite oxygen-rich.
Due to the incredibly hot temperatures of the planet, no liquid methane can be naturally found, but there are large amounts of liquid hydrogen monoxide, which some scientists believe might harbour some unknown form of primitive life.
Well played, sir, well played.
They are planning to burn /the atmosphere/? How will they confine combustion to the baloon, and not the whole lot?
Re: hang on
Exactly the same way we do here. i.e. When a hot air balloonist lights his gas burners (burning atmospheric oxygen in combination with propane) does all the oxygen in our atmosphere go up in sympathy?
No? Now work out why not and you'll have the Titanian answer in reverse.
Surely a problem here
is that when you burn oxygen in methane etc you get carbon dioxide and water, both of which will immediately freeze onto your extremely cold balloon, weighting it down more and more as time goes by ...
Titanian - really? Shouldn't that be Titanic?
Well then, Titanese, perhaps.