back to article Boffin: Titan moon largely made of LPG, not cheese

An American scientist believes he may have come up with an explanation for the curious lakes of liquefied petroleum gas found at the polar regions of Titan, moon of Saturn. It could be because Titan is not spherical, but has a liquid layer which is. A Cassini image of the polar hydrocarbon lakes of Titan The LPG fields of …


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  1. MJI Silver badge

    Long way to fill up

    Hmm all that Propane.

    Never run out of autogas

    Better get it before Calor claim it!

    Go because my car does.

  2. foo_bar_baz

    Welcome to Titan.

    In the interest of your own safety please refrain from smoking. And don't even think about using rocket propulsion.

  3. A.A.Hamilton


    "On top of that, its mountaintops are usually lower than the surrounding terrain."

    That would make them valleys then wouldn't it?

    btw, on earth I understand that PG (LPG before its L) is produced from vegetable (cellulose based) matter under great temperature and pressure over a long period of time. If this is true on Titan, does it mean that it was as warm as earth once? If not where did all that LPG come from?

    And does B&Q have enough plastic hose pipe in stock to make a flexible connection, bearing in mind both tenperature and distance changes?

  4. Wize


    Fly over there.

    Fill up your tanks with free fuel.

    Fire up the engines to head home.

    Watch the moon fart its way out the solar system.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Free LPG?

    Great how do I get my car up there to fill up?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Liquid ethane

    Do you mean alcohol?

  7. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Geology 101

    'btw, on earth I understand that PG (LPG before its L) is produced from vegetable (cellulose based) matter under great temperature and pressure over a long period of time.


    If this is true on Titan,


    does it mean that it was as warm as earth once?


    If not where did all that LPG come from?'

    Methane seems to be almost universal in the objects of the outer solar system. UV light from the Sun cracks the methane into reactive radicals which then recombine into heavier molecules such as propane, butane and so on. The really heavy hydrocarbons are what make the outer moons of the solar system so dark in colour as well as giving Titan its charming 'smoker's cough' colouration.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    re:liquid ethane

    no ethane is C2H6, alcohol (the one you mean anyway) is ethanol - C2H5OH ...

    flame because you know you want to! - though i'd guess it's probably lacking a bit of oxygen :-(

  9. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


    Titan's atmosphere is 98.4% nitrogen, 1.6% methane with trace quantities of a few other compounds. There is no oxygen and no strong oxidiser, so your cigarette would not stay alight there, and would not ignite any of the chemicals that would be more exciting in Earth's 20% oxygen atmosphere.

  10. jeffrey


    so hypotheticaly if a robot lander wanted to return from the surface, all they would need to take would be a pump, a tank full of oxygen, and an empty tank to store the lpg in?

  11. crypt

    Thats all well and good....

    ..but what potential threat to "Intersolar security" can we use as a pretext to send the troops to titan?

  12. Alistair

    Boffin FAIL

    I can understand there being some excitement in extraterrestrial planetary boffin circles over results from Cassini/Huygens but this one seems to have shot his bolt early.

    Any liquid on the surface will be subject to the same gravitation and rotation as the rest of the body, same as on Earth, so will not adopt a different shape.

  13. G R Goslin

    Re oxygen

    Might be a good idea to send oxygen to Titan. On Earth, strictly speaking, Oxygen is a toxic pollutant produced as a result of early life processes. Greenpeace and FOE, should really be encouraging us to rid the world of this pollutant and return it to the high CO2 atmosphere that it shoul naturally have.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Unfortunately that would not work either - apart from the enormous cost of transporting even a small amount of oxygen to Titan, the problem you really have to consider is the escape velocity of the combustion products, which unfortunately for ethane/propane are comparatively low. This is why they don't use petrol in rockets which are due to fly into space.

    A flame, for combustion products.

  15. Paul

    @ CRYPT...

    "..but what potential threat to "Intersolar security" can we use as a pretext to send the troops to titan?."

    If you look at the image, thats no moon, thats a Halo.

    So the covenant and possibly the flood would be excuse enough.

    Mines the recon armour on the left...

  16. Damien Thorn


    Well not in our lifetime but thats a handy discovery for some future space faring world.

    It CAN be used as fuel, a craft only has to VENT it, not burn it to use as fuel. Equal and opposite action and all that sciency stuff ;)

    Do we need titan, before we use it as our solar systems first out space filling station?

    PS no one owns it yet - so i publicly declare ownership of titan. If anyone wants to challenge my ownership, come to titan and fight me :)

  17. storng.bare.durid

    Peak Oil?

    Let's just go to titan and tug it back to earth :P

  18. David Stever

    Planting a big wet one on The Register today

    What a lovely day to be an inquisitive geek - an article about Bacon Sarnies and Titan, the Gas Station of the Solar System. Luvly. Just luvly, folks!

  19. mark jacobs

    That's right - tell everyone

    Now loads of entrepreneurs will be haring off to Titan to plunder its resources. Typical humans! Rape the universe and then curl up and die. ;-)

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