Saturn’s Largest Moon Could Power a Population the Size of the U.S.

“I think long-term, after Mars, Titan’s probably the next most important place that people will have an extended presence.”

7. 16. 17 by Chelsea Gohd
NASA/JPL
Image by NASA/JPL

Titan’s Power

While Mars has been getting its fair share of publicity, Titan — Saturn’s largest Moon — is “remarkably Earth-like,” as New Scientist puts it. It boasts a firm surface, a thick atmosphere, and even surface water. According to Ralph Lorenz, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University, “I think long-term, after Mars, Titan’s probably the next most important place that people will have an extended presence.” 

Click to View Full Infographic

This means there’s a destination beyond Mars that could potentially sustain continued human life. But there is just one (ok, so probably more than one) major problem: power. At about 1.4 billion km (about 870 million miles) from the Sun — compared to Earth’s approximate 150 million km (93 million miles) — there’s a high likelihood that whatever is sent to Titan will remain on Titan. Therefore, any energy used by probes (or maybe one day, visitors) would need to be able to be generated on the Moon itself. Luckily, Titan just so happens to have conditions that could make it possible to power a population the size of the United States.

Mining the Moon

Titan is rich in methane, and while combusting hydrocarbons for fuel in an oxygen-lacking environment isn’t the best idea, the moon is also theoretically chock full of acetylene. Acetylene, when combined with hydrogen, can be used to generate power. Additionally, while hydropower might not be the most feasible plan (as the topography doesn’t naturally lend itself to this type of power) ocean turbines could be an another power generation possibility. In addition to all of this, wind power would also be an option — though it would be difficult to implement with the technology that’s currently available. Despite Titan’s distance from the Sun, solar power, too, could be a possible power source.

Mining the existing natural components of space could prove to be a great ally in our quest to explore the cosmos. It also might give space exploration agencies major financial and scientific incentives — as asteroids and moons often contain highly sought after materials. And so, as we begin to better understand these cosmic objects — and hopefully benefit from their components — we can also hope to find ways in which they might lend themselves to sustaining our explorations, and maybe one day, our lives.

Advertisement


As a Futurism reader, we invite you join the Singularity Global Community, our parent company’s forum to discuss futuristic science & technology with like-minded people from all over the world. It’s free to join, sign up now!

Share This Article

Keep up.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter to keep in touch with the subjects shaping our future.
I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement and Privacy Policy

Advertisement

Copyright ©, Singularity Education Group All Rights Reserved. See our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Futurism. Fonts by Typekit and Monotype.