NASA and SpaceX Ilona Mask are focused on bringing astronauts to Mars and once even establishing a colony on the Red Planet – but what if their attention was directed the other way?
Recently in the Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach an article appeared in which people are invited to found a colony on Titan, the orange satellite of Saturn, which is similar to the Earth in his youth and which can hide an unknown life to us. Instead of sending people on a mission to one end to look for life on the surface, a new job offers to equip the outpost of the future precisely on Titan.
In many respects, Saturn’s largest satellite, Titan, is one of the most Earth-like worlds we’ve discovered to date, “NASA says on its Web site. “Due to its dense atmosphere and organic chemistry, Titan resembles a frozen version of the Earth, which it was several billion years ago, before life began to pump our atmosphere with oxygen.”
For the sake of justice, Titan may have germs – or at least chemistry, reminiscent of prebiotic life – but it’s still not Earth. This moon is covered with orange clouds, and its atmosphere is not the friendliest. But Titan’s gravity allows you to walk on the surface (14% of the Earth’s surface), the radiation on the surface is less than on Mars, due to thick clouds, and the satellite offers various sources for generating energy.
On Titan there are huge reserves of hydrocarbons – compounds usually associated with oil and gas. Data from NASA’s Cassini probe showed that Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth.
People on Titan could get energy from these compounds if they used a separate source of combustion that could work in the absence of oxygen. The new study also considers other methods of obtaining chemical energy, such as the treatment of acetylene (which is there a lot) with hydrogen.
“In this work, I wanted to dig a version of the chemical energy deeper and options with alternative energy,” says Ann Hendricks, a scientist at the non-profit Institute of Planetary Science. “My co-author Yuk Jung and I studied the chemical, nuclear, geothermal, solar, hydropower and wind variants of energy production methods on Titan. The work is intended to be the first high-level work on these topics. ”
Although Hendricks says it is possible to generate all of this energy with our modern technology, she notes that by conducting proper research, we could and should find ways to extract more from Titan’s environment. For example, if we study the possibilities of various materials for photovoltaic elements, we could extract more solar energy – and it is especially important to do this in view of Titan’s conditions.
Hydropower would require a better mapping of the abundant lake areas of Titan, including their topography and the speed of their currents. Even wind energy will require some research in the field of wind turbines in the air. But all these directions, according to Hendricks, are promising.
“I guess that, like on Earth, Titan will benefit from a combination of energy sources,” she says. – In particular, solar energy (with the use of large arrays of elements) and wind (using air turbines).
With proper approach, this energy will be more than enough for a small outpost. Instead of just sending people into a one-way mission to find life, for example, Hendrix sees a future in which energy is developed to meet all the needs of the colonists. Solar panels covering, for example, 10% of the surface of Titan, could generate the energy needed to meet the needs of 300 million people. Of course, this is only a preliminary assessment.
And yet, since NASA intends to put people on Mars by the 2030s, the space agency remains focused on mastering Mars. Although recognizes that “there is no money.”