Titan, one of Saturn's dozens of moons, has supplies of natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons hundreds of times greater than Earth’s oil reserves, Space.com reports. The unmanned Cassini spacecraft has mapped only 20% of Titan’s surface with radar, and has already discovered dozens of bodies of hydrocarbon liquid, each one of which more volume than Earth’s entire oil supply.
The Cassini team hopes to learn from Titan, thought of as a kind of pre-biological Earth, about the transition from hydrocarbon chemistry to biological life. "We are carbon-based life, and understanding how far along the chain of complexity towards life that chemistry can go in an environment like Titan will be important in understanding the origins of life throughout the universe,” said one scientist. (Read more Titan stories.)