Is Saturn's Moon Titan the Future of Energy on Earth?

Thursday, 07 December 2017 - 10:38AM
Thursday, 07 December 2017 - 10:38AM
Is Saturn's Moon Titan the Future of Energy on Earth?
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Image credit: NASA
One of the big challenges that humanity faces in its future is finding a way to adequately fuel our comfortable lifestyle.

Many of the Earth's natural resources that we currently rely on, such as natural gas and oil, are inherently finite. Once they're gone, they're gone, and we won't be able to make more unless we're willing to wait millennia for animal and plant matter to decompose under a thick layer of rock.

While fracking has proven an effective way of squeezing every possible drop of oil from beneath the Earth's core, this method of fuel collection won't work indefinitely. As such, in a bid to find the next big natural gas deposit to exploit, scientists have been looking wistfully towards Saturn's moon of Titan.

It's been well documented that Titan has an awful lot of methane hanging around its atmosphere and filling frozen lakes and oceans. It's also believed that Titan's atmosphere is basically crude oil, minus sulfur, which is in and of itself enough to get certain businessmen salivating.

Thanks to data collected by the late, great Cassini probe, we know that Titan contains far more potential fuel than planet Earth, and with commercial space flight now picking up steam, it makes sense that, according to USA Today, certain businessmen and scientists are beginning to look to Titan as a source of fuel that could be mined, shipped back to Earth, and used to provide us with combustible fuel for centuries to come.

That said, as eager as these businessmen may be, we have to hope that, as a species, we've moved beyond using natural gas and oil to power our homes by the time it's actually possible to launch a mining mission to Titan.

At present, environmentalists (as well as the vast majority of the scientific community) are expressing concern at the potential danger that fracking creates for our planet's ecosystem.

When we'd thought that we were going to soon run out of oil reserves, businesses had a greater incentive to embrace renewable, clean energy.

Once we found a way to drill for oil in the cracks between rocks, the momentum on clean energy projects stalled somewhat.

The last thing planet Earth needs is for humanity to start important pollutants from other planets. Traditional fuel sources are bad for the environment, release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and, it's plain to see this year, are dramatically altering weather patterns, with disastrous effects.

If businessmen across the world start believing that it's only a matter of time before we can ship back all of Titan's natural resources to burn with reckless abandon, they're less likely to pony up the cash that's necessary to help develop better clean energy sources, and humanity will travel ever further towards a future where the planet becomes so polluted that our species will struggle to survive.

Thankfully, progress is being made on the renewable energy front, little by little. Hopefully by the time humanity actually gets to Titan, we'll view the moon's methane lakes as a smelly curiosity, rather than an opportunity to further wreck our own atmosphere.

After all, if everything on planet Earth starts relying on solar energy, there won't be any need to burn big bags of methane and crude oil in order to keep the lights on, and Titan's fuel deposits can remain exactly where they are.
Saturn's Moon Titan Is the Future of Energy on Earth