Written by admin under News on Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tags: Cassini spacecraft, Earth, NASA, oil, Saturn, Titan
Paris – Scientists have discovered immense oil resources in Titan, which is a moon of Saturn. The oil reserve of Titan is estimated to be several hundred times greater than that of earth.
An artist’s imagination of hydrocarbon pools, icy and rocky terrain on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon Titan.
Credits: Steven Hobbs
The immense reserve is detected at a location which is 1.2 billion kilometers i.e., approximately 750 million miles away from Earth, where average temperature itself will be minus 179 degrees Celsius.
Titan has several hundreds times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the available oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, said the European Space Agency (ESA).
In Titan, the ethane and methane falls from the sky in the form of rain, forming massive lakes and seas. It is believed that complex organic molecules called tholins are responsible for Titan’s oily dunes, said the ESA.
“Titan is just enclosed in a carbon covered material. It is a giant factory of organic chemicals,” said scientist Ralph Lorenz.
Revealing the mystery of Titan’s carbon-chemistry may help to find out the answer for how Earth’s carbon-based life began, said the researchers.
The fall of hydrocarbons from the sky, in the form of rain and get stored in massive deposits that form lakes and dunes. But now scientists are quantifying the material using observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
Titan has long been considered as a place that might be somewhat like Earth. “The inventory of immense oil resource is an important break through into the geology and climate history of Titan.” said scientist Ralph Lorenz.
The 20 percent of Titan’s surface has been mapped by Cassini with the help of its radar. According to the statement of NASA, scientists have observed several hundreds of lakes and seas; each of it is estimated to have more hydrocarbon than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth.
The total availability of natural gas on Earth is 130 billion tons. But the Titan’s lakes and seas individually have the equivalent of at least this much energy in the form of methane and ethane.
“This estimation is made based on the pictures of the lakes located in the North Polar Region,” Lorenz said. “We assumed that the southern polar region might also be similar, but we really don’t yet know how much liquid is there.”
The radar of Cassini has observed the southern polar region only once, and only two small lakes were identified.
Scientists also estimated the depth of Titan’s lakes by making some general assumptions based on the lakes on Earth.
“We know that the depth of some lakes are more than 10 meters or much deeper because they appear factually pitch-black to the radar,” said Ralph.
The volume of liquid present on the Titan’s surface is important because methane is a strong greenhouse gas. Titan will become much colder if the methane present on its surface gets expired. Scientists assume that the presence of methane in the Titan’s atmosphere might be due to the expulsion from volcanic eruptions.
Relevant Links: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMCSUUHJCF_index_0.html
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