Feeds

back to article Cassini spots MEGA-METHANE SEAS on the north pole of Titan

Images taken from the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn have given the clearest pictures yet of the planet's largest moon Titan and revealed vast seas of methane on the north pole that are more than 200 times larger than all the proven hydrocarbon reserves here on Earth. Seas of liquid methane on Titan Polar seas could keep us …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Bronze badge
Joke

Next task...

Build a pipeline to transport that methane back here to earth. Then we might actually HAVE global warming instead of dreaming about it.

Task for those on Titan: Get some oxygen to burn.

5
7
Bronze badge
FAIL

Judging from the way things are going here on Earth we may need some of those hydrocarbons to keep life sweet for future human generations.

That has to be the dumbest thing I've ever seen written in an El Reg article. Where do I start! How about with the fact that we'd use far more energy getting there and back to harvest the hydrocarbons than we'd get from burning them once they are back here? Or how about we just switch to noocular?

5
7
Bronze badge

The Only Failure Here...

... is your inability to hear the whooshing over your head.

9
0

we'd use far more energy getting there and back

Doesn't matter if we use 100 times the energy getting there and back, just as long as there are commercially viable quantities left in the tanks when you do get back.

IE: As long as it's cheaper to go to titan for your yummy hydrocarbon fix than it is to pump it out of the ground or squeeze it out of rocks, then it will happen :)

4
0
Bronze badge

Re: we'd use far more energy getting there and back

"IE: As long as it's cheaper to go to titan for your yummy hydrocarbon fix than it is to pump it out of the ground or squeeze it out of rocks, then it will happen :)"

Convenient outer solar system refueling station?

5
0
Bronze badge

Re: we'd use far more energy getting there and back

> Convenient outer solar system refueling station?

Having seas of methane is of no use as energy, if you don't have a corresponding amount of oxygen to burn it with.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: we'd use far more energy getting there and back

Not necessarily. Even if it travels 10 years on solar sail or a couple of years on ion drive so what?

Provided that you find a way to mine it and lift it off the surface it may indeed be economically feasible in theory.

In practice, if we have the technology to mine it, lift it off the surface, accelerate to escape velocity and solar sail it to Earth we are least likely to need it for something like patio heaters.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: we'd use far more energy getting there and back

"> Convenient outer solar system refueling station?

Having seas of methane is of no use as energy, if you don't have a corresponding amount of oxygen to burn it with."

Well, all you need is to stop by on Europa to top up your water tanks before proceeding to Titan... Or, snatch a comet or two from the Oort Cloud after bathing at Baxter'sloading at Titan.

1
0

Re: we'd use far more energy getting there and back

As usual, Arther C Clarke got in there first, Check out his seventies novel "Imperial Earth" where the plot hinges on the 22nd Century economy of Titan supplying Methane across the Solar System for spacecraft propellant.

4
0

Not necessarily.

If you fly all the way from Earth to Titan this may be the case, but if you avoid the gravitational wells the flight is cheap.

The extraction could happen in phases: The surface extraction facilities could use a mass accelerator to put containers of hydrocarbons in orbit (the containers themselves could be made of ice), a transport craft picks them up and using a part as fuel accelerates and travels into the orbit of the Moon-Earth system.

The hydrocarbons could be delivered at a terminal in the moon, just put into orbit around it or delivered into earth orbit, from there they could be equipped with chutes or something the like to make a soft descent and done ;)

The most expensive part in terms of fuel / energy of a space trip is reaching the escape velocity from earth, the rest is cheap.

In the future the fuel may not even be consumed in the Earth but in Mars or the Moon... Hey, we could even create a darn sweet greenhouse effect in Mars with all this methane!

1
0
Silver badge

Re: we'd use far more energy getting there and back

Doctor Who's 'Invisible Enemy' had one of those on Titan, where Earth was menaced by a giant prawn in cahoots with Mr Bronson after he was infected by terrifying eyebrows.

1
0

I like the nuclear idea, but the energy usage for travel to and from Titan doesn't necessarily impact the energy obtained from Titanian methane. Small payloads of workers and machinery to start the extraction process wouldn't use as much energy as could be extracted from Titanian methane. Meanwhile, launching that methane back to Earth can be done with energy sources not involving the methane or even much in the way of other terrestrial energy sources. For example, launching methane off Titan might be done with an electric mass driver (using a few tons of terrestrial uranium), while the subsequent flight and navigation to Earth could be done with solar sails and gravitational assists, if you're patient. Those energy sources don't really draw on terrestrial energy sources much.

The problems for exporting Titanian methane to Earth are, in my opinion, two-fold:

First, it's a lot of work and expensive equipment to obtain it. Second, there are cheaper ways of making more methane on Earth, which isn't short of carbon or hydrogen. Even if it's energy-intensive to combine, say, terrestrial coal and water or carbon dioxide and water into methane, it's still probably cheaper than going all the way to Titan for methane. You'll probably get richer building a solar power satellite or nuclear reactor to make methane on Earth than to get it from Titan.

0
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Boffin

Re: El Reg SI

As per Wikipedia, Belgium's area is 30,528 km^2. Multiply that by 1179 and you get 36 million km^2, not 3.6.

On the other hand, someone seems to be up for a Rory for Most Gratuitous Use of the Word 'Belgium' in a Serious Posting.

2
0
Silver badge
Coat

Let me be the first to say...

P.U.!! Who farted?!

Getting mine because it smells around here.----------------->

0
0
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Let me be the first to say...

Methane is odorless.

Coat: because nobody likes a party pooper.

4
0
Silver badge
Terminator

Down to just "4 per cent of its maneuvering propellant"

Hydrocarbon reserves as far as the sensor can see, and not a drop to drink!

4
0
Boffin

Re: Down to just "4 per cent of its maneuvering propellant"

Gotta have oxidizer too for it to burn.

0
0

Re: Down to just "4 per cent of its maneuvering propellant"

Don’t need to burn it, so don’t need oxidiser. Just need it to be exerting force in the rocket motor chamber. Could achieve that by boiling it with a nuclear reactor.

1
0
Bronze badge
Mushroom

AAARrrgh! The Kraken Marrrrr!

She be a volatile one - that one she be! If we're not careful she'll blow, me matey! ARRrgh!

1
0

Star Citizen

Well, now I know where to fly my Starfarer when I play Star Citizen.

0
0

Re: Star Citizen

Saturn itself would be a better bet, given CIG have already made many statements about refuelling at gas giants.

0
0

Re: Star Citizen

That landed one with the people under her nose looks awesome.

Someone really should get all the meticulously mapped parts of our neighbours and turn them into flight sims. I really want to fly along Mars Valles Marineris... Hoping David Braben (Elite) will get that stuff in.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Star Citizen

Saturn's giant gravity well might be a bit more of a problem to get stuff out of though

0
0
Bronze badge
Happy

Chemistry set

It never fails to amaze me that some 350,000 years or so after a pint-sized quark-gluon plasma emerged from somewhere or other, as yet unknown, the entire universe turned into an enormously large, active, chemistry set.

0
0

Man all those years exploring..

space and all we get is a big fart back at us

0
0
Anonymous Coward

All I can think of is that QI episode with Ross Nobel and his "Kicking ewoks in to lakes of Farts"

0
0
Silver badge
Devil

"200 times larger than all the proven hydrocarbon reserves here on Earth"

That's it ! We're invading liberating that planet NOW !

Call CNN and Fox News. We'll have to embed the journalists for the duration this time.

In carbonite, preferably.

1
0

The 1955 Hubbert 'peak oil' hypothesis and the intentionally deceptive misnomer, 'fossil' fuel are matrix science mind games to divert from the Truth....Hydrocarbons are created through the Universe and are NOT a finite residue of past life, but a mandatory precursor for all Carbon life forms. Hydrocarbons are produced on Earth using the variable rate fission decay products of 2 million cubic miles of Uranium and Thorium, released under high heat and pressure. The proton and neutrons released during fission form 'elemental' atoms, then elemental molecules and compounds. See the "Geo-nuclear" tab at the FauxScienceSlayer site. It is the variable Earth fission rate that sets the baseline temperature for climate change. We have been systematically LIED to about everything.

0
0
Silver badge

Hmmm

Do you really believe in your own fairy tales or are you just trying to get more hits for your website?

0
0
Bronze badge
Angel

Importing Element 6?

Judging from the way things are going here on Earth we may need some of those hydrocarbons to keep life sweet for future human generations.

From all the ballyhooing and whingeing from Greenies and the Climate mob, I'd gotten the impression earth should be exporting Element 6, not importing it.

Perhaps I've been reading the wrong newspapers.

0
0
Boffin

Curious as to why...

...they are going to deliberately de-orbit the probe rather than simply guiding it into a somewhat stable orbit once the fuel is exhausted? Surely they would still be able to get useful data from it periodically if they parked it?

After all, it's not like they're going to clutter Saturn space with junk any time soon the way we have with Earth :-)

1
0
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Curious as to why...

Oh, come on. You have to crash the ship once you've finished playing with it. Did you learn nothing playing with Lego as a kid? It's Standard Lego Operating Procedure: the ship, base and everything else always gets trashed at the end. Not to mention, there's millions of us big kids here who want to watch the Saturn-Shattering Ka-boom!

0
0

Re: Curious as to why...

There's a point where spacecraft just wear out and are no longer usable, and are no longer safely controllable. (And there's a weird fear that Earth germs might contaminate Saturn's moons. It'd stink to get a sampling probe to, say, Enceladus and find thriving microbes...only to realize they're E. Coli from some Cassini technician's unwashed hands.) As you suggested, Lincard1000, Cassini is being parked for a few years in an equatorial orbit around Saturn, but after that the last bit of information is gathered, it's being dumped into Saturn to avoid an accidental collision with Saturn's moons.

0
0

Re: Curious as to why...

Huh... never thought about the contamination aspect to it although I have to admit that I'd be a little surprised if there was anything still surviving on the craft after all these years exposed to vacuum and radiation. Still, stranger things have happened, right?

And, to be fair, better (and higher paid) minds than mine have obviously thought it through :-)

The malfunctioning aspect wouldn't be too much of an issue though, given how remote the thing is and the chance of it damaging anything much.

Appreciate the response, Cray74 - thank you.

0
0

Re: Curious as to why...

Good point, Steven :-)

Never had lego as a kid but I did have Stickle-Bricks.. those were awesome (and I still have them somewhere). Yes, most things did end up exploding afterward.

0
0

Didn't do much global warming there then?

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.