There's methane in them thar lakes

Chevron's SS Condoleezza Rice II, en route for Titan

That gleam in the eyes of energy executives across the globe? It's the faint reflected light of a far distant moon. Titan or bust!

Scientists have discovered what appear to be sea-size bodies of liquid, probably methane or ethane, on the surface of Saturn's largest moon.

The discovery by the international Cassini spacecraft was welcomed by researchers, who have long theorized that Titan possessed hydrocarbon seas because of methane and other organic compounds in its thick, largely nitrogen atmosphere. Until now, Cassini had spotted only clusters of small lakes on the planet-size moon.

"They're very obvious. There's nothing subtle about them," said Cassini scientist Jonathan Lunine of the University of Arizona, Tucson.

There will be nothing subtle about the energy industry's coming interest in space exploration, either. Somebody page Halliburton.


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