Tag Archives: titan

Dumb but explosive science question

I’ve been reading Bill Bryson and watching a lot of QI lately, which has triggered a lot of thoughts and questions about the universe. One of them, which I’m hoping will get answered by a science site I sent it in to, goes like this:

* Methane is a gas that, when mixed with oxygen, becomes highly explosive. It’s responsible for many mining explosions on earth.

* Some planets and moons in our solar system are believed to have rivers and clouds made from liquid methane and atmospheres containing some 1-3 % of methane.

* The reason the methane on these planets/moons doesn’t cause major explosions is because there isn’t any oxygen in the atmosphere to react with.

* Hypothetically, what if we could reach say Titan (Saturn’s biggest moon) with a spaceship, and what if that spaceship was carrying a significant amount of oxygen? How much would be enough to set Titan on fire? Would it have any consequences for earth if Titan turned into a giant fire ball from methane reacting with oxygen?

What? Are you accusing me of plotting what universal pranks I’m going to pull once I have established world domination? Never!

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