Can Fossil Fuels be Found on Other Planets?

  • By: Preetam
  • Date: August 28, 2021
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Fossil fuels at this point do not exist on other planets. While scientists have come across oil resources on other planets, they don’t consider them fossil fuels. Why?

Well, reports from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) say it deems natural gas, crude oil, and coal as fossil fuels since the buried residues of animals and plants created them millions of years ago.

So, since no life has so far appeared on any other planets, their resources wouldn’t be considered fossil fuel.

Then again, we can be wrong because some scientists believe the oil they’ve discovered on Orion came from organic matter.

They claim to have also found natural gas on one of Saturn’s moons. Let’s delve into that.

More Oil on Orion Constellation than Earth? 

Scientists discovered an oil field with 200 times the quantity of hydrocarbons as the whole amount of water on the planet. It’s 1,300 lightyears to the oil field.

According to scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, in the Horsehead Nebula galaxy, they’ve detected large hydrocarbon molecule deposits. This galaxy lies in the Orion constellation.

Unlike Earth-bound fossil fuels, which comprise a decomposed organic material, the researchers believe these hydrocarbon molecules come from fragments of giant carbonaceous molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a waste product of dying stars.

Is it True That Life Existed on Orion?

The scientists conclude that they have witnessed the operation of a massive natural petroleum refinery.

While the compounds in this crude may not be on the minds of the country’s oilmen, scientists are pretty interested in them: Some speculate that these space-borne molecules may have served as organic compounds in the early stages of life.

Natural Gas on Saturn?

The hazy moon of Saturn named Titan has hundreds of times more natural gas and other liquid hydrocarbons than all of Earth’s known oil and natural gas reserves, according to scientists.

On the moon, hydrocarbons shower down from the sky, gathering in massive amounts that form lakes and dunes.

However, scientists now use measurements from NASA’s Cassini mission to quantify the substance.

Titan has carbon-bearing material all over it, and is a gigantic factory of organic molecules, said Ralph Lorenz of the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University. Lorenz, who was a member of the Cassini radar team there, adds that this massive carbon inventory provides valuable insight into Titan’s geology and climate history.

Titan would be a terrible place to live at minus 179 degrees Celsius (below 290 degrees Fahrenheit). Instead of water, the moon’s surface has liquid hydrocarbons such as methane and ethane on the whole surface, and scientists believe its dunes come from tholins.

Carl Sagan invented the term “tholins” to characterize the complex organic compounds at the center of prebiotic chemistry in 1979.

How similar to Earth is Titan?

Space explorers long believed that Titan is a world similar to Earth shortly before biology took off.

With radar, Cassini has mapped around 20 percent of Titan’s surface. According to a NASA statement, they discovered several hundred lakes and seas, each expected to hold more hydrocarbon liquid than Earth’s oil and gas reserves.

The organics in the black dunes that sweep along the equator are hundreds of times larger than the world’s coal reserves—according to the statement, proven natural gas reserves on Earth number 130 billion tons, which is enough to provide 300 times the amount of energy used yearly in the United States for home heating, cooling, and lighting.

In the form of methane and ethane, dozens of Titan’s lakes have the equivalent of at least as much energy.

They base this global estimate primarily on observations of lakes in the northern polar regions, Lorenz explained.

They anticipated the south would be comparable, but we don’t know how much liquid there is yet.”

Cassini’s radar only saw the south polar region once, and it only saw two small lakes. Scientists published their findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Scientists determined the depth of Titan’s lake using broad assumptions based on Earth’s lakes.

They calculated the average area and depth of lakes on the planet, considering the surrounding terrain, such as mountains.

On Earth, the depth of a lake is frequently ten times that of a neighboring landscape.

“We also know that some lakes are at a greater depth than 10 meters or so because radar shows them as pitch-black.

We’d see the bottom if they were shallow, but we don’t, “Lorenz remarked.

Is the Methane on Titan From Fossil Fuel?

The amount of liquid on Titan’s surface is an essential question since methane is a potent greenhouse gas on Titan, just as it is on Earth, but there is far more of it. If all of Titan’s liquid were methane, it would only last a few million years since methane breaks down and escapes into space when it exits into Titan’s atmosphere.

Titan could get substantially colder if the methane runs out. Methane may be fed to the atmosphere by frozen volcanic eruptions spewing from the interior, according to scientists.

If that’s the case, Titan’s methane levels and temperature may have changed substantially in the past.

“We are carbon-based life,” Lorenz said, “and understanding how far down the chain of complexity towards life chemistry may go in an environment like Titan will be critical in understanding the beginnings of life throughout the cosmos.”

Final Thoughts

Fossil Fuels, according to the Government and scientists, must come from plants and animal remains. However, that has not yet been found on other planets, even though some have natural gas.

Therefore, Earth is the only place so far known to have fossil fuels.

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