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Liquid Lakes On Saturn's Moon Confirmed

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the time-for-a-saturn-icon dept.

Space 188

Riding with Robots writes "Scientists have been using the robotic spacecraft Cassini to explore what looked to be large lakes of hydrocarbons on the surface of Saturn's planet-sized moon Titan. But they couldn't be entirely sure that the features were actually liquid lakes, and not simply very smooth, solid material. Now, new findings seem to confirm that the observations really do show extensive seas of liquid ethane and other hydrocarbons. In fact, Titan seems to have an entire 'water' cycle of ethane evaporation, rain and rivers."

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Cheesy Joke Thread, and life on Saturn (1, Offtopic)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 6 years ago | (#24414789)

This is the official "invade Saturn" thread. Please post all jokes about the united states invading Saturn here, so as not to contaminate more serious discussion.

On another note, can anyone tell me about the chances of this being a good environment for oil eating bacteria?

Re:Cheesy Joke Thread, and life on Saturn (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24414823)

I'd prefer to invade Uranus.

Robin "roblimo" Miller

Re:Cheesy Joke Thread, and life on Saturn (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24414825)

This is the official "invade Saturn" thread. Please post all jokes about the united states invading Saturn here, so as not to contaminate more serious discussion.

In Soviet Uranus, oil invades you?

Re:Cheesy Joke Thread, and life on Saturn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24415435)

Uranus will be invaded without oil!

Official Official Thread! (1)

Zarf (5735) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415419)

This is the official official thread. All other threads should post under this one if they want to be official. Please post here to avoid contaminating the jokes with non-funny comments.

Thank you and good day sirs!

News from the Future (1)

stargazer_55 (1150931) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415573)

The first manned mission to Titan ended tragically today as one of the astronauts stepped out onto the surface and lit up a cigarette.

Re:News from the Future (2, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416305)

The first manned mission to Titan ended tragically today as one of the astronauts stepped out onto the surface and lit up a cigarette.

You'd need oxygen for that.

Re:Cheesy Joke Thread, and life on Saturn (1)

dlgeek (1065796) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415689)

I doubt there'd be any bacteria as we know them there, as the surface temperature is -300F. If there were some kind of bacteria, they definitely wouldn't have water-based cells.

If you're looking for extraterrestrial life, I'd say it's very unlikely. If you're looking for bacteria to help with recycling on earth, I'd say you're SOL.

Re:Cheesy Joke Thread, and life on Saturn (1)

Tongsy (1188257) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415727)

Obviously they would be ethane based cells.

Re:Cheesy Joke Thread, and life on Saturn (5, Funny)

gsslay (807818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416323)

Not "invade". Sheesh, keep to the script why dontcha?!

Act 1: Locate & Destroy Secret Inter-planetary WMDs
Act 2: Er, forget that, we never said that, we meant; Liberate oppressed Saturnians
Act 3: Confuse Saturn For Something Jupiter Did - Meh, they're all gas-giants aren't they?
Act 4: Ooh, fancy that, you have oil? That we did not know.
Act 5: Damn Ungrateful Tentacle-heads

Re:Cheesy Joke Thread, and life on Saturn (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416725)

Act 6: ???
Act 7: Profit!

US plan (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24414795)

... and they have a non-democratic government, so they should be invaded to "help them" with their problem ...

Re:US plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24415049)

"Operation Titan Freedom"??

Re:US plan (2, Funny)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416697)

Don' free teh Titans. Perseus is dead.

goody (1)

SirShmoopie (1333857) | more than 6 years ago | (#24414833)

If by the time we get out there we've exhausted our own supply of hydrocarbons we know there are plenty waiting for us.

Given how valuable they are as a raw material I would assume the plan wouldn't be to burn them..

Re:goody (4, Insightful)

IAAE (1302511) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415141)

Other than burning hydrocarbons, what would you do with them?

TFA says that theres methane, ethane and other light hydrocarbons. You can make CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs and that kind of fun stuff with methane and ethane, but to make polymers you need ethylene or other hydrocarbons with double or triple bonds.

It probably wouldn't be feasible to transport hydrocarbons from Titan back to Earth for consumption here, the energy costs alone would be astronomical; that and the whole climate change and tendancy to move away from hydrocarbons... The only thing I can see this being "useful" for is if we wanted a "refueling station" in space where we could just load up a spaceship with what is essentially natural gas. The only problem would be finding oxygen to combust it with...

I see what you did there... (4, Funny)

postermmxvicom (1130737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415349)

"the energy costs alone would be astronomical" ba dum tis [instantrimshot.com]

Re:goody (1)

Zarf (5735) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415519)

The only thing I can see this being "useful" for is if we wanted a "refueling station" in space where we could just load up a spaceship with what is essentially natural gas. The only problem would be finding oxygen to combust it with...

... hellooo... cloud mining Saturn. The obvious discovered!

Re:goody (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416437)

The only problem would be finding oxygen to combust it with...

Send a giga-shitload of solar panels there, fore into the liquid water layer [wikipedia.org] , do electrolysis, and there you go!

Re:goody (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416555)

Actaully, if there is such an abundance of the stuff we use for power why would it be that impossible?

Launch rocket from Earth with transport probe.
Transport probe houses parts for a return rocket and parts for a "shipping container".
Once it arrives, it fuels the return rocket and loads the shipping container.
Launch rocket from destination towards Earth.
As it nears Earth, launch a receiving rocket which aids in safe descent of the shipping container.

As long as the shipping container is collapsible (something akin to a balloon, but sturdy enough to withstand launch and space) it shouldn't be too bad. Oh, and the contianer has to at least bring back enough to pay for the trip, so I'm not sure how big that container needs to be.

Layne

Saturn == LA? (5, Funny)

dlgeek (1065796) | more than 6 years ago | (#24414841)

FTA: "[T]hese particles form a ubiquitous hydrocarbon haze that hinders the view."
Sounds just like LA.

Re:Saturn == LA? (1)

deadmantyping (827232) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415431)

More like Beijing

Re:Saturn == LA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24415797)

yeah, but American always owns LA so theyll now have to invade another planet

Re:Saturn == LA? (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415811)

It is ringed by a dark beach, where the black lake merges with the bright shoreline.

Sounds more like Jersey if you ask me.

Re:Saturn == LA? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416265)

Sounds more like Beijing. Maybe they can hold the next Olympics there.

Low Gravity and Viscous Liquids (1)

AtomicSnarl (549626) | more than 6 years ago | (#24414847)

Kewl! I want to go Surfing!

Re:Low Gravity and Viscous Liquids (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#24414885)

Ethane BOILS at -88 C, so skip the zinc oxide and pack some mittens and earmuffs.

Re:Low Gravity and Viscous Liquids (1)

Osurak (1013927) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415127)

Ethane BOILS at -88 C, so skip the zinc oxide and pack some mittens and earmuffs.

Any intelligent life that developed there would probably use the phase changes of ethane as the basis for their temperature scale, rather than water. So -88 C would become something more like 100 E

Re:Low Gravity and Viscous Liquids (2, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415721)

Heretic! Everyone knows that ethane boils at 212 degrees Ethanheit, just as it freezes at 32 degrees E. 100 E is just a hot day in Titan-Texas.

Re:Low Gravity and Viscous Liquids (1)

Osurak (1013927) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415981)

Heretic! Everyone knows that ethane boils at 212 degrees Ethanheit, just as it freezes at 32 degrees E. 100 E is just a hot day in Titan-Texas.

Yeah, I guess the 0-100 scale doesn't make sense if the hypothetical beings on Titan do not have 10 fingers and therefore do not think in base 10. 32-212 is equally nonsensical to everybody, except maybe an octopus.

Re:Low Gravity and Viscous Liquids (2, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416543)

32-212 is equally nonsensical to everybody, except maybe an octopus.

I think that the Germans [wikipedia.org] would have something to say about that :)

IIRC, Farenheit used the word "degrees" and thus wasn't worried about a 10-based system. The boiling point of water wasn't known yet, so he used some points that he knew to be constant. Icy salt water (well, ammonium cloride) was known to remain constant, so he used that for zero. Icy pure water was known to remain constant, so he used that for 32. The human body was known to be constant, so he used that for 96. Why he didn't use 0, 1, and 3 is beyond me... maybe he felt like he needed more resolution. I think one theory is that he originally picked 12 - a number that humans seem to like. Later, for whatever reason, he then sub-divided the scale with 8ths. Another is that he just built his scale by quadrupling a previous 0-60 scale and re-calibrating it.

Re:Low Gravity and Viscous Liquids (1)

msbmsb (871828) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416055)

So -88 C would become something more like 100 E

Or "212 Q".

Re:Low Gravity and Viscous Liquids (1)

SirShmoopie (1333857) | more than 6 years ago | (#24414903)

you just know that sooner or later, even if its centuries from now, someone is going to do exactly that.....

Re:Low Gravity and Viscous Liquids (1)

e03179 (578506) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415067)

...just before they go surfing on the surface of the sun.

Re:Low Gravity and Viscous Liquids (1)

strelitsa (724743) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415565)

But only at night.

Re:Low Gravity and Viscous Liquids (1)

SirShmoopie (1333857) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416855)

well obviously only at night. Mind you, all the shops would be shut, so where would you go for a latte afterwards?

Gas price ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24414865)

There's our chance to lower the gas price and test if the Global warming is a myth. Import it from Saturn.

On another tought, how about a refuelling station there for space exploration ?

Re:Gas price ? (1)

conteXXt (249905) | more than 6 years ago | (#24414981)

And here we thought the Alaska Pipeline was expensive.... Imagine the stretch on THAT hose?

Re:Gas price ? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415767)

Stretch space hoes? Weird oceans? Sounds like THHGTTG already.

Re:Gas price ? (2, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415591)

There's our chance to lower the gas price and test if the Global warming is a myth. Import it from Saturn.

What? Are you saying you want to try to burn ethane gas instead of gasoline? I guess you could, though I wouldn't want to be anywhere near ethane storage if a leak was suspected - mixtures of 3% ethane in atmospheric air can be explosive.
And of course that's ignoring how much energy and money would be expended to try to bring it to earth from Saturn.

On another tought, how about a refuelling station there for space exploration ?

Are you planning to burn the ethane? If so, then you would still need to bring oxygen with you, as there might not be any of it there. Unless you want to try to use it as a propellant on its own...

Re:Gas price ? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415783)

I guess you could, though I wouldn't want to be anywhere near ethane storage if a leak was suspected - mixtures of 3% ethane in atmospheric air can be explosive.

Ethane is part of natural gas, and was burned along with the methane for a long time. Now they take it out because it is valuable, not because it is hazardous. A leak would just vent, since it's lighter than air. Propane scares the hell out of me, especially when I see it inside.

what about venus ? (1)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 6 years ago | (#24414935)

"This makes Titan the only body in our solar system beyond Earth known to have liquid on its surface."

i thought venus had molten metal rivers on it's surface. or is it just an uncorfimed hypotesis ?

anyone more knowledged tham me could please step forward ?

Re:what about venus ? (2, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415015)

No, Venus's surface is a desert. It'd be hard to get a river of metal anyway: only a few metals are liquid on its surface and not even the extremely abundant ones like iron.

Re:what about venus ? (1)

radarjd (931774) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415411)

only a few metals are liquid on its surface and not even the extremely abundant ones like iron.

Does that mean there are pools of liquid metal, even if there aren't rivers?

Re:what about venus ? (0, Offtopic)

PIBM (588930) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415065)

... beyond Earth ...

Would not that mean past earth, like mars ++ ?
Venus is closer to the sun than the earth.

Re:what about venus ? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415743)

Actually that makes sense... the heavier metals and minerals that the solid planets (ones having a surface, as opposed to the gas ones) have a lot of would generally tend to be liquids at higher temperatures. (It's not necessarily a rule; mercury is heavy but is liquid at relatively low temperatures for example. For most of the elements it's generally true though.) You wouldn't really expect the farther-out rocky planets to have much of anything in liquid form since they're so cold.

Amazing! (5, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24414951)

Please tell me that all these rovers on Mars were just there to train for the real thing on Titan.

No seriously, picture how awesome it would be to explore Titan with rovers. This place is probably the one place in the Solar system that has the most in common with our planet! The fact that it still has rivers and liquid lakes makes it so much more interesting than Mars, plus it has a thick atmosphere (5 times our atmosphere on the surface) we could probably send a UAV there or a blimp.

Re:Amazing! (4, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415123)

OK here's my idea of a fancy mission to Titan. Firstly, an orbiter around Titan, with a nice camera and the appropriate filters to see through the atmosphere like Cassini has, but also so radar thing to map the whole thing , even under its liquid lakes, and gather lots of informations about what must be Titan's unusual geology, and that would serve as a relay between Earth and the various machines on Titan. Then a lander, not necessarily a rover but that could be a plus, mainly designed to study the local geology and weather. Then a robot to explore the lakes, their chemistry, eventual currents, their depth.

And the fanciest part of all, a UAV-carrying blimp. It would float in Titan's thick atmosphere, low enough to be able to carry heavy weights (remember, on Titan a pressure of 1 Earth atmosphere is pretty high above the ground) and cover a lot of ground, provided there's some wind on Titan. It would obviously study the atmosphere, clouds, winds, chemicals composition, temperature etc extensively, but it would also be greatly placed to study the ground from very close. I said UAV-carrying, what would be more fancy than a blimp that would launch tiny UAVs that would fly around taking lots of pictures and measurements to then return to the blimp?

Re:Amazing! (2, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415595)

Cool idea, but the UAV-carrying aspect of the blimp is an expensive disappointment waiting to happen...imagine how disappointing it would be when one or more of the UAVs crashes, and when you try to fly an autonomous UAV around an alien planet, it will happen, and probably in short order. Also in a thick atmosphere, while the aircraft would need smaller lifting surfaces / lift bags they'd also need to be big and heavy so they won't be blown around like a styrofoam take-out box if there's any wind at all, which is exactly what would happen to a tiny UAV (actually they're not a whole lot better off than that on earth in my experience).

A blimp might work but a blimp that launches fixed-wing UAVs is asking for trouble. Maybe a blimp that can transport mini-rovers would be more useful.

Re:Amazing! (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415807)

Well maybe the UAV part isn't worth it considered how complicated it would be rather than just a blimp, but on the other hand it doesn't seem that bad. It seems that near the surface winds are weak (around 0.5 m/s, or 1.8 km/h), so it doesn't matter so much if the UAVs get blown around like storyfoam in that case. It seems however that high altitude winds can reach up to 270 mph, which could be used by the blimp to travel large distances.

I think the main problem is really how to make a UAV/blimp fly in an atmosphere of nitrogen sometimes colder than 90 K, however I'm not qualified to assert whether or not this would even be possible. By the way I was wrong, the surface pressure isn't 5 bars but 1.46. That's what you get for relying on information you read as a child in books published in the early 1980s. Looks [wikipedia.org] like the pressure reaches 1 bar at an altitude of roughly 6 km.

Re:Amazing! (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415863)

Yeah, considering that they have a hard time getting free fall to work right the first time (both Mars and the Moon have a few man-made craters, *wink*), it would be a real trick to build flying machines (either gasbag or wing contraptions) that worked in a very different (and not even fully understood) atmosphere...

Actually, joking aside, that would be a really interesting job. Since they don't know what the atmosphere is like they'd probably have to give it a pretty decent margin of error and then use some sort of computer-controlled swing-wing that would sense and deliver the exact amount of lift required... that'd be pretty cool if they pulled it off.

Re:Amazing! (2, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416671)

First of all we know Titan's atmosphere way well enough for that (look it up, we're far from completely ignorant about it unlike what you make it out to be), thanks to sending a probe there. And it wouldn't necessarily be hard, it's not because the atmosphere is different that it'd make it hard, it's just a few things about the atmosphere that may make it harder or easier, but there's nothing inherently hard about it.

Also, I think it might be easier to inflate a blimp during a parachute-slowed decent than to actually land safely. Which makes me wonder, why don't we send blimps everywhere where we can find a dense atmosphere? Can you picture a blimp in the atmosphere of Jupiter, Venus or Neptune? *drool*

Well, I won't ask you to picture a blimp in Uranus but that would be pretty cool too.

Re:Amazing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24416445)

Interesting sure, but it's going to run into some problems, namely power. Batteries don't work when you get them cold (colder for batteries designed to withstand it, but in principle batteries work on chemical reactions which are slowed dramatically by lack of heat), and there's really not much sunlight that far out to use for solar panels.

Even nuclear power won't work. Weight effecient nuclear power [wikipedia.org] relies on heat differencials to generate electricity, but when both ends of the bimetal are cooled by a lake of -77C hydrocarbons you can't expect much juice... unless you want to come up with enough fuel to launch a nuke sub to saturn (closed systems should allow enough of a heat buildup to get power).

I'm sure zero point works there as well as it does here, and lightweight fusion too.

Actually now that I think about it if there is atmosphere and weather there is almost certainly wind, but tapping that might be an eyesore, and I just saw a "Not in my back yard" bupersticker on a saturn on my drive to work.

Re:Amazing! (1)

MrVictor (872700) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415335)

It's too cold. I think it would be extremely difficult to design a rover that can survive extended periods on Titan's surface. Surface temps plunge as low as -290 F. I think most materials used to build a rover would become very brittle at those temps.

Re:Amazing! (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415865)

So I guess that then you'd have to stick to a fixed lander, like the one that landed in 2005 except more durable and with more instruments? By the way, why was the Huygens probe even designed to only last a few hours? Or is it all you can get without solar panels?

Re:Amazing! (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415985)

Yes, Europa's ice covered ocean is another interesting but difficult target and IMHO is currently the most likely place to find ET.

Tidal Lock (4, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#24414991)

Does anyone know if Titan is in tidal lock with Saturn? Anyone know if there exists a list of which moons are in tidal lock and which aren't?

Re:Tidal Lock (3, Informative)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415077)

Yes, Titan is tidally locked. The Wikipedia article on Tidal locking [wikipedia.org] may have a good list.

Re:Tidal Lock (4, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415109)

All of the medium to large satellites (Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Rhea, and Titan, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Phoebe), except Hyperion, which has a chaotic spin, and I think Phoebe, which is irregular as heck anyway. All the captured, irregular moons cannot be counted on to spin locked to the planet. The inner small moons (Pan, Daphnis, Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora, Janus, and Epimetheus) are tidally locked according to the data.

Re:Tidal Lock (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415251)

Where did you get this list? I'd like to be able to do more research on this, and I'd like a starting point.

Presentation by Carolyn Porco (Cassini) @ TED. (5, Interesting)

Antwerp Atom (1306775) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415079)

Excellent presentation on the moons of Saturn by Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini mission imaging team at the 2007 TED conference. (video)
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/carolyn_porco_flies_us_to_saturn.html [ted.com]

Re:Presentation by Carolyn Porco (Cassini) @ TED. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24415225)

I'd like to porco her

Sorry to bust your dreams... (4, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415181)

Before anyone comes up with the idea to mine the hydrocarbonates on Titan to overcome the oil and energy crisis on Earth, hold your breath!

The energy necessary to accelerate the mined hydrocarbonates enough to transfer them to Earth is higher than the actual energy equivalent you get by burning the hydrocarbonates. That's because you would have to accelerate the Titan-oil from 9.7 km/sec (orbital speed of Saturn) to 29.7 km/sec (orbital speed of Earth).

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

Orleron (835910) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415271)

No worries, once oil passes $1000/barrel that will be feasible. We only have to wait until what, next year for that? :)

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415379)

No. Not even than. It's a physical barrier, not an economical one. You burn more Earth-oil to haul Titan-oil to Earth than the amount of Titan-oil you actually haul.

If you have to consume 9 barrel of oil to get 1 barrel of oil, then only a hedgefond or another perverse financial instrument will draw a profit from it. But in the end you just lose 8 barrel of oil.

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

Orleron (835910) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415529)

Hello? Joking. :)

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

Unordained (262962) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415841)

Why would we burn Earth oil to get Titan oil? We go there, we set up the required refineries, we transform the oil locally, and we use it to extract more of itself. Sure, we'll waste 90% of the oil there on extraction and transmission, but in the end, you still get a trickle of oil coming from Titan, which is more than it currently provides, which makes it oil-positive. You have the initial investment cost of getting equipment there, but that's what you should weigh it against -- not in proportion to itself. If it costs less to send equipment than you will eventually get out of mining Titan, it's worth it, even if it only nets you 10% of the resources that exist there.

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

luzr (896024) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416399)

Where are you going to get oxygen to burn the oil with?

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24416773)

I believe Thelasko means to burn the fuel on Titan, and ship the /energy/ back - by shipping oxygen to Titan, he's hoping that the lower mass he's shipping will make it more economical.

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

WmLGann (1143005) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415405)

Seems counterintuitive to me. An object traveling from Titan to Earth would be falling into the Sun's gravity well. Some energy would be required to get the object out of the neighborhood of Saturn but the bulk of the acceleration to 29.7 km/s could occur naturally by falling, no? Not that it would be anything but silly to import methane from ~1 billion miles away.

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

SQL Error (16383) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416747)

Exactly right. It's the old "slow down to speed up" rule in orbital mechanics. Slow down so that you can no longer maintain your orbit, and you fall inwards, gaining speed as you go.

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415467)

The energy necessary to accelerate the mined hydrocarbonates enough to transfer them to Earth is higher than the actual energy equivalent you get by burning the hydrocarbonates.

What about transferring oxygen from Earth to Titan?

Think about it! On Titan, cars don't need fuel injection, they need oxygen injection.

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24415601)

Not if one were to build a launch rail up the side of a mountain in a direction complimentary to the spin of the moon. See- How to colonize the galaxy in eight easy steps

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415645)

But how much energy would it take to get it into space where we could use it there?

Don't apologize, It seems your wrong... (1)

postermmxvicom (1130737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415835)

Actually, the energy associated with Saturn's orbit is greater than Earth's. Look at the rotational energy of two objects with the same mass, but give one Saturn's orbital distance and speed and one Earth's. You actually gain energy coming to Earth.

Think about electron orbitals...it's kinda the same...higher orbits = more energy. Or you can think of an ice skater, when she bring her hands in, she spins faster. It is conservation of momentum not speed.

You mean "you're" not "your" you ignorant bafoon! (1)

postermmxvicom (1130737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415941)

Way to be all snarky! you can't even spell!! idiot!

On reread of my post, I caught my spelling error and it also seems to have a negative tone. I was going for funny with the heading, not condescending. I think I missed the mark. Haha, oh well, jokes on me, not knowing how to spell and all.

Re:Don't apologize, It seems your wrong... (1)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415983)

Don't tell me that "potential energy" nonsense! It's got to be incredibly simple as the grandparent amazingly discovered! This is Slashdot!

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24415847)

no no no, we will just do it a much cheaper way...build a really long pipeline! Of course, we may have to mine some asteroids first to get enough metal for the pipes.

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415877)

I think you would only need to accelerate out of the gravity well of Titan (plus a little more to boost from Titan's orbital speed to Saturn's escape velocity). The rest of the trip is downhill to a parking orbit around the Earth or Moon.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's how it would work.

Big old sausages full of Titan's Finest, with a few oxygen tanks strapped on, some low power rocket engines, and a good guidance system. Biggest energy drain of the whole trip would be the LEDs that light up the ship's name: on the Earth-facing side of the lead sausage, in letters 1,000 feet high, Chevron Condoleezza Rice [sfgate.com] (visible in amateur telescopes for most of the trip).

Yeah, that's prolly going to happen in a hundred years. Feedstock for the orbital factories, very little of Titan's juices would get to Earth itself.

Wrong numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24416141)

You are barking up the wrong tree. The potential energy gains will take care of the acceleration.

The problems of delivering the goods to Earth are different: (1) exiting Titan's gravity well, (2) exiting Saturn's gravity well, (3) decelerating from Saturn's orbital speed, (4) waiting for the Sun to pull the vehicle in, (5) decelerating onto Earth's orbit and (6) landing on Earth.

Step (4) will bring the vehicle to the speed of 40 km/s so a deceleration of 10 km/s will be needed.

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416465)

Yea, that would be almost as stupid as spending more money to invade a country and secure their entire oil supply than that oil supply is actually worth.

Re:Sorry to bust your dreams... (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416535)

That's because you would have to accelerate the Titan-oil from 9.7 km/sec (orbital speed of Saturn) to 29.7 km/sec (orbital speed of Earth).

Except it doesn't work like that at all. You don't accelerate, otherwise you'll never go down to Earth's orbit, you decelerate to go down, and by doing so you gain speed.

Need Coffee / Glasses... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24415191)

Anyone else read the headline as:

Liquid Snake On Saturn's Moon Confirmed

Oh my god! A new MGS Game!

Always appropriate (0, Offtopic)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415199)

This was predicted by Nostrodamus. KISS played a song in praise of it: here [youtube.com] .

Exxon/Mobil to explore Saturn Pipeline (1)

ekimminau (775300) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415203)

On news [nasa.gov] today that the surface of saturn is literally covered in a sea of liquid ethane [wikipedia.org] , a combined oil conglomerate of Exxon and Mobil Oil Corp. have announced that they are exploring "pipeline options" to tap into the limitless reserves.

"Screw the tree hugging liberals" said one un-identified spokesman. "If we can gain access to such a limitless source of fuel for automobiles, we won't have to waste a dime on alternatives. 60 year supply? How about 6000 year supply."

In other news, the price per barrel of oil has dropped $26.00 per barrel on chinese market trading. John Vaderslooth of Bears Sterns this morning said "I wouldn't be surpised to see us drop ack down into the $50-60.00 per barrel range by close today." It should be an exciting market day today.

Back to you taco.

Re:Exxon/Mobil to explore Saturn Pipeline (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415383)

As much as you are joking - it would be nice if they actually did take initiative to set up some sort of operation... even if it was something as simple as further exploration of the surface. The oil companies are rolling in dough - enough to make NASA look like a poor family owned toy store - and this is something that would benefit science... perhaps I wouldn't feel as guilty paying so much at the pump.

Re:Exxon/Mobil to explore Saturn Pipeline (1)

thedistrict (1327685) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415471)

True but the amount of fuels that would be burned in order to get there to examine more fuels defeats the purpose doesn't it?

Re:Exxon/Mobil to explore Saturn Pipeline (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416017)

Sure its wasteful if the goal is to actually retrieve the fuels, however, to have private investors beginning to put money forth in the name of science will far exceed the possibilities of government funds. America, for example, was explored and found by government funding, but the reason why it grew is because of private investments seeking profit. So what would be the purpose to explore Titan? Probably the same reason NASA is doing it - to find out more about it. It's not about retrieving the fuels, but rather why the fuels are there. I would love to see Exxon give NASA a check to think about sending a rover there or something.

Re:Exxon/Mobil to explore Saturn Pipeline (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416749)

True but the amount of fuels that would be burned in order to get there to examine more fuels defeats the purpose doesn't it?

Don't they teach chemistry in American high schools? In French high schools they teach you that you need something like oxygen to burn fuel.

What they didn't tell us (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415281)

The actual confirmation was a big ripple when a rock fell into the lake.

Abiogenic oil (1)

luzr (896024) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415455)

What makes me wonder is what these pools of hydrocarbons on Titan say about 'debunked' theory of abiogenic oil.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenic_petroleum_origin [wikipedia.org]

Re:Abiogenic oil (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416395)

Nothing. It just means there was life on Titan!

A little chilly, I'd say (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415527)

For those not familiar with Ethane [wikipedia.org] , it has a boiling point of -86.6 degrees Celsius. Interesting that a moon has cycles in the neighborhood of that temperature range. Though a trip there would make most parts of Antarctica seem like a tropical reprieve.

Re:A little chilly, I'd say (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416577)

And for people whose minds think in a different temperature system:

-86.6 degree Celsius = -123.88 degree Fahrenheit

Luckily, with a spark and some oxygen the liquid ethane will burn gloriously to keep you warm.

Unluckily, you'll still eventually die.

cowabunga and such (2, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415605)

sgt: Ok, men, wax your boards and hit the surf.

pvt: Hey, do you think it's safe?

sgt: Don't worry, Geeblort don't surf!

So where did these hydrocarbons come from? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24415615)

I thought we've always had beaten into our heads that hydrocarbons, and oil and gas in particular were the result of decaying biomass from dinosaurs. So, where did these hydrocarbons come from? Was Titan an outpost for some spacefaring dino species, that got wiped out in a strange intergalactic plague? Or is there a much more sane, reasonable answer that I just haven't seen yet?

In other news (1)

Jedi Holocron (225191) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415663)

A consortium of Exxon/Shell/BP/Haliburton have formed the Hydrocarbon Orbital Recovery - Exterra Partners, know as HORE Partners, to being planning for recover of the Titan resources.

What are the chances of life? (1)

theolein (316044) | more than 6 years ago | (#24415753)

The whole "USA invade SATuRn for OiL" thing gets tiring after a while. What are the real chances of a form of life on Titan?

According to TFA the lakes seem to be a mixture of ethane, methane and other hydrocarbons. From what I've read, he general consensus is that life requires a liquid solvent that can dissolve a vast amount of materials, such as water or ammonia. It seems that ammonia ices and water ices have been ruled out on the surface, leaving only the frozen and non frozen areas of hydrocarbons.

Given that the ethane is a byproduct of methane breakdown by sunlight on Titan, also producing the chemical haze of its atmostphere, would there be any chance of a life form developing in Titan's lakes? The chemistry seems to be low on energy for life to start, but the same chemistry is also highly reactive.

Anyone?

Units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24415913)

TFA:

The lake is roughly 20,000 square miles (7,800 square miles) in area

I see that the good folks at NASA still haven't quite got the hang of it.

So the SF Writers Got It Right (1)

Toad-san (64810) | more than 6 years ago | (#24416263)

I remember a teenage SF story (back in the 50's) that had colonists on Titan. They flew around in cute little jet aircraft; only needed to carry an oxidizer (oxygen), since the atmosphere was methane.

I always thought that interesting; fanciful but interesting.

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