Sunday, January 23, 2005

Smokey says "Only you can prevent planetary conflagrations"

This is the coolest discovery made by the Huygens probe on Saturn's moon Titan.

Saturn's moon Titan is covered by "dirty" ice ridges and seas of liquid natural gas, a team of scientists said on Friday after a week of research into data from the space probe Huygens.

"We've got a flammable world," said Toby Owen, an atmospheric scientist, at a news conference from European Space Agency offices in Paris monitored on NASA TV.

I believe this means that escape from Titan would be nearly impossible. Let's say, for example, that you land your little rocket ship on Titan's surface, spend a nice day strolling the "creme brulee" surface, hand in hand with your sweetie, enjoying the brisk -290 degree temperatures. . . . and then decide to call it a day and head back to Earth.

So you hop back into your rocket ship and fire thrusters.

Oops. So much for Titan. (And so much for you, as well.)

Scientists say that because there's no oxygen on Titan, there are no worries. Had there been a source of oxygen, they say Titan would have exploded long ago. Still, if I were thinking about opening up a little bistro with a nice view of the rings, I'd definitely ban smoking.


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