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ToSeek
2003-Oct-02, 07:11 PM
Radar reveals Titan's methane lakes (http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994227)

Huygens go splash!

Swift
2003-Oct-02, 08:25 PM
That is way cool. If I had to vote for most likely place (after Earth) to find life in this solar system, it would be Titan. An atmosphere, liquid hydrocarbons, and a lot of energy - there are places on Earth that are a lot worse for life. 8)

aurora
2003-Oct-02, 08:47 PM
That is way cool. If I had to vote for most likely place (after Earth) to find life in this solar system, it would be Titan. An atmosphere, liquid hydrocarbons, and a lot of energy - there are places on Earth that are a lot worse for life. 8)

Pretty cold, though.

mr. show
2003-Oct-02, 09:17 PM
awesome catch toseek

radar may have detected an "undisturbed pool of liquid"

too cool

mike alexander
2003-Oct-02, 09:44 PM
Now you have me thinking about what kind of life would evolve in lakes of liquid hydrocarbon...

Ahah! Texans!

Madcat
2003-Oct-03, 01:48 AM
Hey, how different is the stuff in the lake from good old "texas tea"? And what's Titan's escape velocity?


This could be interesting..... :)

AK
2003-Oct-03, 05:13 AM
Hey, how different is the stuff in the lake from good old "texas tea"? And what's Titan's escape velocity?

Well, if you brought the slurry on Titan back here, methane and ethane would both be gases at Earth temperatures/pressures (boiling points of -161.7C and -88.6C respectively), so it'd be more like natural gas than oil. Methinks the cost of gathering it on Titan and transporting it 1.5 billion miles would eliminate any possible profit.

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Oct-03, 05:14 AM
We could just move Titan. Hmm... kind of hard to do...

Madcat
2003-Oct-03, 05:21 AM
Methinks the cost of gathering it on Titan and transporting it 1.5 billion miles would eliminate any possible profit.

Ah, but the return trip is free. :) I will concede that the startup costs of a mining operation would be huge.

AstroSmurf
2003-Oct-03, 07:17 AM
Nah, moving Titan is easy. Just shift Saturn closer and it'll tag along.

(this is actually not entirely a joke)

Swift
2003-Oct-03, 01:44 PM
Actually, the idea of mining Titan for hydrocarbons is not a stupid idea. This assumes it is not full of critters (sorry, I'm also a tree-hugger). I'm not saying we are going to do this in the next 50 years, but it potentially could be a big resource, particularly once we've used up the Earth's supply of Texas tea. By that point, burning it for fuel would be stupid (heck, its pretty stupid now), but where do you think all the plastic comes from.

It would also not be a surprise if there were higher molecular weight hydrocarbons too. For example, UV radiation shining on tops of Titan clouds (which would contain some amount of methane) would trigger reactions to higher molecular weights. It might be raining propane on Titan! I also wonder if there are geothermal features on the bottom of Titan lakes and seas (instead of hydrothermal, is that methan-thermal?). This would certainly pump energy into the system. I know about the geothermal activity in the Jovian system (volcanoes on Io, for example), but what about in the Saturn system - is Saturn big enough for tidal forces to heat Titan?

eburacum45
2003-Oct-03, 01:57 PM
The Earth won't be the biggest market for volatile gases and liquids from Titan and the other moons of the gas giants;
once we attempt to set up a colony on Mars or even the Moon there will be a great demand for water, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen.

We don't really want to deplete the Earth, so these elements will need to be obtained elsewhere.
Comets could suppy some of this material, but Titan in particular has massive volatile resources for export to the inner planets.

Betenoire
2003-Oct-03, 02:01 PM
Hey, how different is the stuff in the lake from good old "texas tea"? And what's Titan's escape velocity?

Well, if you brought the slurry on Titan back here, methane and ethane would both be gases at Earth temperatures/pressures (boiling points of -161.7C and -88.6C respectively), so it'd be more like natural gas than oil. Methinks the cost of gathering it on Titan and transporting it 1.5 billion miles would eliminate any possible profit.

It IS natural gas.

Gasoline is mostly octane (from what I understand while reading the gas pump while filling my car). Octane is eight methanes strung together (methane is one carbon with four hydrogens:
....H
H-C-H
...H
Octane is eight carbons attached to eachother with eighteen carbons(This doesn't look quite right, just picture the Hs right above and below the Cs, except for those two on the end):
....H H H H H H H H
H-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-H
....H H H H H H H H

Kaptain K
2003-Oct-03, 06:06 PM
I, for one, doubt that we will find life on Titan. Three reasons:
1) No free oxygen.
2) No (or very little) water.
3) It's damn cold.

Swift
2003-Oct-03, 07:12 PM
I don't think free oxygen is a problem - life for the first billion years on Earth liked it that way. The water is an interesting question - is there data on water content of Titan and if there isn't a lot of water could one have life that was not based on water? Cold - is there and data on the surface temperature of Titan? What about geothermal activity from tidal heating?

aurora
2003-Oct-03, 07:30 PM
Cold - is there and data on the surface temperature of Titan? What about geothermal activity from tidal heating?

Mean surface temperature is -178 degrees C.

http://www.solarviews.com/eng/titan.htm#stats

http://www.seds.org/nineplanets/nineplanets/saturn.html

http://www.seds.org/spaceviews/cassini/science.html

I don't think any geothermal activity is anticipated, but maybe the Huygens probe and Casini's radar will shed some light on that.

AK
2003-Oct-03, 08:00 PM
I know about the geothermal activity in the Jovian system (volcanoes on Io, for example), but what about in the Saturn system - is Saturn big enough for tidal forces to heat Titan?

Not likely to be those kind of tidal forces on Titan. Io experiences them because it's both close to Jupiter and close to the other large moons on the other side. Titan is both a lot farther from Saturn than Io is from Jupiter, and it lacks large masses on the far side to flex it in the other direction (if I remember correctly, only Hyperion, Iapetus and Phoebe orbit farther than Titan and none are large relative to Titan.



It IS natural gas.

Gasoline is mostly octane (from what I understand while reading the gas pump while filling my car). Octane is eight methanes strung together (methane is one carbon with four hydrogens:
....H
H-C-H
...H
Octane is eight carbons attached to eachother with eighteen carbons(This doesn't look quite right, just picture the Hs right above and below the Cs, except for those two on the end):
....H H H H H H H H
H-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-H
....H H H H H H H H

Gasoline contains a number of things besides octane, which is just the volatile compound which is burned for energy. And you missed my point completely. I KNOW what natural gas is, I'm just saying, the data on Titan indicates that the majority of the organic content is methane and ethane, not octane, and if you wanted to attempt to synthesize octane from it, you'd be adding the cost of that to the whole mess.

And by the way, I hold a minor in biochemistry and have had my fair share of organic chemistry, but thanks for assuming I'm an idiot and don't know the structure of methane and octane.

George
2003-Oct-03, 08:30 PM
Now you have me thinking about what kind of life would evolve in lakes of liquid hydrocarbon...

Ahah! Texans!

Yes. We thank ya'll very much! This is the explanation for the Gulf of Mexico which is the hole left from one of those nasty impacts here in Texas (that's when we gave it to Mexico - the gulf that is). It got stuck around Saturn so we didn't get it back. More on this here...

http://www.ExtraTexas.com



Hey, how different is the stuff in the lake from good old "texas tea"? And what's Titan's escape velocity?

Here is a non-fictious site on Titan >>> Titan Data (http://www.solarviews.com/eng/titan.htm) <<<.

Escape velocity is about 6,000 mph.

mike alexander
2003-Oct-03, 09:49 PM
Whup. Perhaps some clarification to the non chemists.

Gasoline is a pretty complex mixture of straight-chain, branched-chain, cyclic aliphatic and aromatic compounds. There are hundreds of components (mainly hydrocarbon isomers). Furthermore, the crude is further fractionated and catalytically reformed, then blended (by source and season) for the final product.

The octane rating refers to the tendency of a particular blend to knock under standard conditions. The original octane scale was introduced in 1927, with n-heptane (very high knocking tendency) given a value of 0 and iso-octane (low knocking tendency) a value of 100. The 'octane number' was defined as the % iso-octane added to n-heptane to produce the equivalent knock as the mixture under study. Therefore, if a commercial blend of gasoline was knocking under the same conditions as a blend of 92% iso-octane and 8% n-heptane, the blend would be given an octane rating of 92.

So, while the gas at the pump has an octane number, it is not necessarily made of iso-octane.

Isn't chemistry wonderful?

beskeptical
2003-Oct-04, 06:40 AM
The final answer on Titan's methane will come 2005, when the European Space Agency's Huygens spaceprobe will parachute to the surface of Titan.
Well there goes the neighborhood.

Didn't we just send Galileo into Jupiter so we wouldn't contaminate Europa or some other moon of Jupiter?

beskeptical
2003-Oct-04, 06:50 AM
I don't know about the water requirement, but oxygen and sunlight aren't required and neither is a heat source per se.

Cold Methane Seeps (http://people.whitman.edu/%7Eyancey/califseeps.html)

Tuckerfan
2003-Oct-05, 08:08 AM
I'd be willing to bet that the cost of sucking Titan dry, would be cheaper (using a combination space elevators and Orion-type spaceships) than some of the US's more recent activities in hydrocarbon rich areas of this planet.....

RickNZ
2003-Oct-05, 11:22 PM
Yes but Galileo didnt go through strict sterilizations that Huygens did.

Vega115
2003-Oct-05, 11:27 PM
Lakes of methane? Nobody light a cig! [-X

Kaptain K
2003-Oct-06, 05:26 AM
Lakes of methane? Nobody light a cig! [-X
Why not? Without an oxidizer, it won't burn! :roll:

Amadeus
2003-Oct-06, 11:24 AM
:lol: Ok now I want to torch Titan. How much oxidisers would it take to start it off? How much will it cost to transport? How long would it burn for?

:D
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There's no such thing as a free Launch....

Betenoire
2003-Oct-06, 02:14 PM
And by the way, I hold a minor in biochemistry and have had my fair share of organic chemistry, but thanks for assuming I'm an idiot and don't know the structure of methane and octane.

There's more than just you talking here. I was in no way trying to speak down to you, treat you like an idiot, or any other such. I WAS trying to provide education for the sixteen other people involved in this conversation.
Now, in defense of my specific statement, you said:


it'd be more like natural gas
instead of "It'd be natural gas."

Betenoire
2003-Oct-06, 02:17 PM
Lakes of methane? Nobody light a cig! [-X
Why not? Without an oxidizer, it won't burn! :roll:

Probably too cold to get a cigarette to burn, even in a room full of oxygen. Maybe. I don't remember my bonding energies.



The octane rating refers to the tendency of a particular blend to knock under standard conditions. The original octane scale was introduced in 1927, with n-heptane (very high knocking tendency) given a value of 0 and iso-octane (low knocking tendency) a value of 100. The 'octane number' was defined as the % iso-octane added to n-heptane to produce the equivalent knock as the mixture under study. Therefore, if a commercial blend of gasoline was knocking under the same conditions as a blend of 92% iso-octane and 8% n-heptane, the blend would be given an octane rating of 92.


Oy... that's... that's... that's the result of government intervention, isn't it?

Kaptain K
2003-Oct-06, 04:45 PM
Oy... that's... that's... that's the result of government intervention, isn't it?
No! Government intervention is the numbers on the fuel pumps. There are two ways to measure octane ratings. Research Octane Number (RON) and Motor Octane Number (MON). RON is about 10-12 points higher than MON. Until the gummint got into the act, everybody used RON. Nobody outside of the fuel industry had ever heard of MON. The gummint (in their infinite wisdom) decided that the numbers on the pumps should be an average of the two ((R+M)/2). Suddenly, 100 octane premium gas was 94 octane and 94 octane regular gas was 89 octane! :evil:

Glom
2003-Oct-06, 08:35 PM
Titan look cool.

ToSeek
2003-Oct-14, 04:28 PM
Touchdown or splashdown? (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/titan_huygens_031014.html)