In one fell swoop the European Space Agency has come up with something that is both a reason to continue space exploration and a potential solution to the Earth’s energy needs.
It seems that the Cassini probe has sent back some really fascinating data from it’s radar mapping of Saturn’s moon, Titan. Turns out that Titan has several hundred times more liquid hydrocarbons than all of the known natural gas and petroleum reserves on Earth combined.
In fact, it’s part of the climate, as liquid methane and ethane rains from the sky like water does here on Earth. They collect to form lakes and seas that contain more potential fuel than exists here. To give you an idea of just how much we’re talking about the article points out that here on earth there has been proven to be enough natural gas
to provide 300 times the amount of energy the entire United States uses annually for residential heating, cooling and lighting
[hrm… makes me wonder why people are screaming about how we’re running out of fossil fuels. I guess it must be pure greed ‘eh?]
Meantime, Cassini’s data has found dozens of lakes on Titan that by individually contain this much energy in the form of liquid methane and ethane. (not that we REALLY need it, since we’ve got enough to power the entire US for over 300 years with just natural gas)
This means that an operation to mine liquid methane on titan and ship it back to Earth in massive space going super tankers would end any question of having a sufficient supply of hydrocarbon fuels