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back to article LPG lake on Titan evaporating in scorchio -180°C heatwave

NASA boffins have released a video travelogue entitled "See Beautiful Ontario Lacus", revealing the delights that travellers to the moons of Saturn might encounter during a visit to the freezing antarctic patio-gas lakes of Titan. The film might better have been entitled "See Beautiful, Disappearing Ontario Lacus", as …

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Coat

In related news...

Titanian Methane have announced a hosepipe ban for all Antarctic region customers.

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Damn it!!

you beat me to it, i was going to make that joke :D

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Coat

We are all to blame

No doubt this is this is the fault of us humans burning fossil fuel here on Earth?

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Anonymous Coward

Almost certainly

Its all the bbq's especially during the recent hot spell. All that patio gas had to come from somewhere.

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Joke

Almost Instant Terraforming...

Add oxygen and a lit match and then stand well back. :)

Cook for as long as wanted, until oceans are a soft liquid and then serve up as needed to any waiting lifeforms. :)

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Coat

the size of ...

glad to see a ... "the size of Wales here" - its a really *really* useful measurement - now even relevant on a solar-system-wide scale ...

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Alien

It's all our fault

Obviously it's all our fault - our Global Warming is sooo bad that it's affecting the rest of the solar system.

We should immediately report to the reception centres for reprocessing and recycling.

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WTF?

belly-aching

Only two posts complaining about global warming?

Republican trolls taking the day off? Blame, fault, etc.

If you don't think we are causing global warming, so what? Question science all you want, it doesn't have feelings. It doesn't change the fact that the truth is out there.

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They have fossil fuel?

Wonder what must have died up there to make it.

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Alien

@"fossil fuel"

It was swamp gas from a weather balloon trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus.

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Boffin

Fossil fuels on other planets

I've never managed to get an explanation for this ... here on Earth we all "know" that Fossil Fuels only come from fossils. Yet on other planets we apparently can have lakes of the stuff without any rotting dinosaurs in sight.

Can somebody please explain how hyrdocarbons exist naturally on other planets and yet are "biologically created" on poor old Earth? (This is not a troll or a flame, I *really* *really* want to know.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fossil fuels on other planets

I saw a recent documentary on German TV where some scientists were claiming that there are probably other process at work that can also produce hydrocarbons. They back that by referencing the fact that some oil wells in Russia, that were shut down due to depletion, are now not as empty as previously thought. They propose that high pressure process deep in the earth seem to be creating hydrocarbons out of carbon in the Earths mantle and replenishing those wells.

Remember, 2nd generation dying stars have dumped unmeasurable tons of carbon into our galaxy and there must be other ways of creating hydrocarbons out of all that carbon. Our 3rd generation star has condensed that stardust into different planets at different distances and all of what we see in our solar system has contributed to the 1 in a million?/billion? chance that life could form on our home planet. If all that stardust would have been evenly distributed amongst all our planets we would not have had the conditions needed for life on Earth.

The universe obviously doesn't need bio-synthesis to create/crack hydrocarbons so evidence we see on Titan backs those scientists claims that it could be happening here on earth as well. Still, that doesn't mean that we can continue to burn up what we have now 'cause those process probably take even longer than the traditional theory. Stop burning our hydrocarbons and save it for more important products that have no alternative.

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Headmaster

How to make a hyrdocarbon

You assume the only route to hyrdocarbons is (as you say) rotting dinosaurs. That is where you go wrong. Its not just via decomposed organic matter. Don't just think about breaking something down into Hyrdocarbons, think instead about also atoms clumping together to form Molecules.

For example one of the hyrdocarbons is Methane. There is nothing special about hyrdocarbons, (other than they are important to us but then so is other atoms and compounds).

Hyrdocarbons are simply chemistry. Take 4 hydrogen atoms and add them to a carbon atom and you have a Methane Molecule. etc..

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Boffin

Why no research?

Right, there are obviously other methods to make hydrocarbons. The problem I have is that neither side of the climate debate seems to even conceed this, let alone investigate it.

There seems to have been some research into this area in Cold War Russia, but Big Oil has quietly smothered that in favour of "traditional theory". They don't want anything that could break their monopoly coming to light. On the flip side, the Green Movement just has an overriding hatred of Oil and everything associated with it.

My contention is that hydrocarbon based liquids are a fantastic portable energy source. For vehicular transport there is nothing even close to the energy density and convenience of a tank of liquid hydrocarbon. As far as I can tell "replacements" for petrol seem to focus around (1) batteries, (2) hydrogen fuel or (3) biologically generated equivalents. Options (1) and (2) have serious energy density and safety issues. Option (3) seems to make the most sense, but gets panned by both sides of the debate. And where is option (4) non-biologically generated equivalents.

People seem to have 2 issues with liquid hydrocarbons, although they often blur the edges together. The first is it's a non-renewable energy source. But what if we don't look at it as a source, but simply an energy storage and transportation medium?

The second is that it contributes to climate change. It only contributes to climate change if those carbon molecules are sourced from carbon sinks or storages such as oil deposits. If we can synthisise (sp?) liquid hydrocarbons from atmospheric carbon then we defeat "Greenhouse Gas" and "Peak Oil" in one go. Trapping and later releasing carbon molecules is (in the current Buzz-speak) "Carbon Neutral".

Obviously I'm talking about using some other (non Fossil Fuel) method of "producing" the energy required to drive the systhesis process, and I'm not discussing that issue here. After all, every method we have comes directly or indirectly from the Sun.

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FAIL

Given that their years are 30 times longer than ours

Couldn't this "odd, hot spell" just be what we know on Earth to be "summer"?

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Anonymous Coward

low-res

How long until one of these probes photographs a black Opel Corsa with a camera pylon on the roof?

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Headmaster

hydrological cycle?

As stated in the article, water (as in "hydro") exists only as ice on Titan, so perhaps "hydrocarbonical" cycle might be more appropriate here.

/pedant

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Boffin

More pedantry

In scientific terminology, the prefix "hydro-" refers to the behaviour of any fluid medium, not just water, such as in "hydrodynamics". So the use of the term "hydrological cycle" to refer to a hydrodynamic system in this context is in fact correct.

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MJI
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Joke

Better fill up before it has all gone.

But how much LPG will I use driving there?

Perhaps Calor have been there?

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Anonymous Coward

So...

...now we've got Google Earth - Titan. When are we going to get street view?

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Not for long

"... roughly three-quarters as big as Wales"

But which kind*?

*Orcas can't spell you know.

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Hmm will I or won't I, ...OK I will ..

Orcas aren't actually whales, they're a species of dolphin, oceanic dolphins actually

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Flame

Send....

A big oxygen tank! Fun! :)

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Pint

Brillant

And at that temp. you can be sure your beer is going to stay icy cold for the whole afternoon while boizing around the BBQ

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PPW
IT Angle

Usable as fuel?

So, given the atmosphere is basically full of combustible gases, could future lander-probes use this as propellant/fuel? All they'd need to carry then is a tank of oxygen (like carrying a tank of fuel in our atmosphere).

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