Moon, Regulus, and Saturn
Scientists have discovered a source of energy that could meet all of humanity's demands for many centuries. But it's kind of hard to get to. It's close to a billion miles away, on a world that's so cold that water is frozen as hard as granite.
The world is Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. Its surface appears to be dotted with lakes of liquid hydrocarbons -- ethane and methane. And giant dunes made of grains of frozen hydrocarbons stretch hundreds of miles across the landscape.
Scientists have known for a long time that Titan has a thick atmosphere that's topped by an organic haze that's similar to smog on Earth.
In the last few years, though, the Cassini spacecraft has shown them much more. It's discovered hundreds of possible lakes on Titan, along with the hydrocarbon dunes. And it's found that a drizzle of ethane and methane likely falls from the sky.
A study released in January said that a single good-sized lake could hold as much energy as all the known natural gas deposits in the United States. And the dunes hold hundreds of times more energy than all of the coal on our entire planet.
But Titan is so far away that it'll take some pretty enterprising wildcatters to get at its vast energy reserves.
Saturn is in good view tonight. It's east of the Moon, and looks like a bright golden star. It's quite close to the true star Regulus, the heart of Leo. Good binoculars or a small telescope will reveal Titan as a tiny star near Saturn.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2008
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