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geokstr
2008-Feb-22, 04:01 PM
There have been several articles recently on the discovery that there are many dozens of huge lakes of liquid hydrocarbons on Titan, each with more than the entire proven reserves of oil and natural gas here on Earth.

If I recall correctly, it has always been said that those resources on Earth were formed by heating and compressing dead vegetative materials for millions of years. Since we have no basis for believing that such raw material ever existed on Titan, does this call into question how they originated on Earth? Is it possible that other processes may have led to our own resources, and if so, given the size of the earth relative to Titan, that there may be vastly more reserves still as yet undiscovered deeper in the Earth's crust or under the sea bottom than we may have dreamed possible? After all, prior to the origination of oxygen on our planet, wasn't the Earth's atmosphere similar to Titan's, with large amounts of methane?

Lastly, what would be the possibility of some day being able recover some of Titan's reserves for use on Earth? Solar sails could be used to get the ships to Titan cheaply, with huge inflatable tanks, and an engine capable of using part of the cargo itself could be used to power the return trip. Each round trip would take a while, but a steady stream of such vessels could return a huge amount of fuel. (Please, no moralizing about so-called anthropogenic global warming and the climatic advisability of such a plan, just its possibility.)

Byrd
2008-Feb-22, 04:38 PM
There's more than one kind of hydrocarbon, and each has a different source. These appear to be composed of methane, ethane, and hydrogen (all of which are freely available, if memory serves, in interstellar gas clouds):
http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EGU2008/01360/EGU2008-A-01360.pdf?PHPSESSID=

and...
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/press-release-details.cfm?newsID=814

"Natural gas" is not the same thing as hydrocarbon oil that we make gasoline out of. We have it here on earth and some of it is of "biotic" (live organism) origin. Here's a Wikipedia article on natural gas:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_gas

Petroleum (that we make gas for cars from) is very different:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum

Did that help any?

Ronald Brak
2008-Feb-23, 03:24 AM
Lastly, what would be the possibility of some day being able recover some of Titan's reserves for use on Earth? Solar sails could be used to get the ships to Titan cheaply, with huge inflatable tanks, and an engine capable of using part of the cargo itself could be used to power the return trip. Each round trip would take a while, but a steady stream of such vessels could return a huge amount of fuel. (Please, no moralizing about so-called anthropogenic global warming and the climatic advisability of such a plan, just its possibility.)

That plan would not pay for itself. The rescources and energy needed to get it would be far more than wha the hydrocarbons are worth. You might be getting the energy you use free from the sun, but it would be cheaper and easier to simply collect the solar energy and transmit it to earth than to transport hydrocarbons.