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View Full Version : What would it take?

Saluki
2005-Feb-19, 05:09 AM
I know this is pure fantasy, but how much energy would it take to move Titan out of Saturn's orbit, and into an orbit where its temp would raise to a range where liquid water was achievable?

Given the density of the atmosphere, I woud guess (wildly) that an orbit around Mars, or in one of its lagrange points would do the trick.

Imagine the possibilities of this primordial world as it evolves life in a living laboratory.

Arkyan
2005-Feb-19, 07:52 AM
I can't even begin to work out the math involved, it's been so long since I got into any thought experiment like this, but it's easy to see at a glance that it'd require an enormous amount of energy to do this. You're talking about moving an object 1.34E23 kg out of an orbit around Saturn, and I believe the escape velocity we're looking at is something like 35.5 km/s. Again I can't do the math right now but, this would take an insane amount of energy, not to mention the trouble in plotting a "course" and making sure removing it from Saturn's orbit would not cause other, undesired effects.

I think it'd be far more economical and simple to find a way to heat Titan up where it is, rather than moving it!

Evan
2005-Feb-19, 08:19 AM
If you can find it in a used book store have a read of "The Sins of the Fathers" and "Lifeboat Earth" by Stanley Schmidt.

It includes the essay "How to Move the Earth" by the author.

Jpax2003
2005-Feb-19, 08:21 AM
It couldn't stay in a lagrangian orbit as it is way way too big. Mars is about 7800km and Titan is almost 5200km. I'm not even sure it would be stable as a Martian Binary, although the snowballs Pluto and Charon are closely matched. I think it might be better to place Titan into an orbit in the asteroid belt, maybe in a binary with Ceres (&lt;1000km).

nomuse
2005-Feb-19, 09:45 AM
Saluki, Saluki....were those the gambling lizard guys in the Anne McCaffrey/Jody Lyne Nye books?

I have in my collection James Edward Olberg's "New Earths," which is like the mechanic's guide to solar pinball. One of the neatest things I got from it was that if you were able to drop enough gas on the Moon to make a breathable atmosphere even the Moon's gravity would keep it comfortably there for a million years or so. But he does mention some of the "engineering" difficulties -- such as if you attempt to move Titan to a friendlier orbit in anything resembling a human lifespan, you'll boil it, shred it, and otherwise make a total messs out of the poor thing.

Kullat Nunu
2005-Feb-19, 11:00 AM
Better not to heat up Titan, since it would then lose its atmosphere.

Grey
2005-Feb-19, 07:43 PM
I know this is pure fantasy, but how much energy would it take to move Titan out of Saturn's orbit, and into an orbit where its temp would raise to a range where liquid water was achievable?

Given the density of the atmosphere, I woud guess (wildly) that an orbit around Mars, or in one of its lagrange points would do the trick.
I'll leave this as an exercise for the reader :), but it's a pretty straightforward calculation if you work it out in terms of energy rather than escape velocity and so forth. The gravitational potential energy of an object is GMm/r, with G being the gravitational constant, M the mass of the object it's orbiting, m the mass of the object itself, and r the distance between the two. So you need to work out the gravitational energy of Titan and Saturn and that's what you need to put in to get it away from Saturn. Since you want it closer to the Sun, once you've gotten it out of Saturn's influence, you'll actually need to remove energy. To know how much energy is involved in this step, you can look at the difference between the gravitational potential energy of Titan and the Sun at the current distance and at the one you'd prefer. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planets) can provide you with all the masses and distances that you'll need.

Imagine the possibilities of this primordial world as it evolves life in a living laboratory.
Well, that would be interesting, but we'd probably have to be really, really patient. I expect that the origin and evolution of life on a warm Titan would take place on a scale of millions or billions of years, just as it did here. Then again, maybe if we were tossing moons around, we'd have that kind of long view.