Extraterrestrial Oil in Our Solar System

The word oil is synonymous with the word petroleum, and it refers to both oil and gas. Natural gas and liquid oil is an essential material for many petrochemical industries that are still in continuous development. Man discovered petroleum and natural gas about six thousand years ago, and many oil derivatives have been developed through refining and manufacturing processes, and today they constitute the main nerve of our daily life.

Oil is a natural substance composed of gaseous, liquid, or semi-solid organic compounds which are carbon molecules bound to hydrogen (hydrocarbons). The simplest form of these compounds is methane, which consists of one carbon atom bonded to four hydrogen atoms.

Can oil exist on other planets? To begin with, the presence of oil (fossil fuels) may indicate the existence of life forms in the past. Oil is produced by the geological pressure of biological materials inside the Earth. Most scientists consider oil to be a by-product of organic sediments from algae and other organisms which form with heat and pressure over millions of years. This means that planets need life to produce oil. That is, living organisms decompose and compress inside the earth’s crust and then turn into oil by several factors.

As for our solar system, we haven’t yet discovered whether other planets have oil or not. However, if we do find it, this will be considered proof of the existence of life on that planet. We must bear in mind that we do not have complete knowledge of our solar system. Given the extent of the universe, for example, the planet Mars has not been fully explored to rule out the presence of oil on it.

Other organic compounds and hydrocarbons such as methane, ethane, and propane can form naturally without the presence of life. On Titan, Saturn’s moon, for example, there are lakes of methane, but not a single drop of oil.

There is an interesting theory that oil and coal form from elemental carbon naturally present on planets. While this is highly unlikely, if true, it means that most planets have oil. In this article, I will aim to explain the formation of oil and oil-like compounds in our solar system.

Oil is an important primary energy source that’s oftentimes called “Black Gold” because of its high economic importance. Light extracts are primarily used in automotive fuel as well as airplanes and jets, while heavy extracts are mainly used in the production of electric power; Oil is also the raw material for many pharmaceutical companies and chemical industries of various products, including fertilizers, insecticides, plastics, fabrics, and medicines.

Oil is a mixture of a large number of different hydrocarbons, the most common of which are linear alkanes (paraffin) and cycloalkanes (naphthenes), as well as aromatic hydrocarbons (arenes), in addition to the presence of a percentage of complex asphalt compounds. Each oil mixture has its distinct composition of constituent particles, which ultimately determines its general physical properties such as color and viscosity.

Crude oil contains, on average, 84% of carbon, 14% of hydrogen, 1%-4% of sulfur, oxygen, nitrogen, metals, and salts.

There are many petroleum derivatives each has their characteristics and properties : (methane-based compounds, ethane-based compounds, propane-based compounds, butane-based compounds, naphtha-based compounds, ethylene-based compounds, propylene-based compounds, olefins-based compounds, and gasoline-based compounds, and toluene).

There are two types of crude oil; Sweet and Sour. Oil containing a high percentage of sulfur is considered acidic, while oil containing a lower percentage of sulfur is considered sweet.

Currently, the most common theory states that petroleum was formed from the remains of terrestrial and marine organisms (animals, plants, and fish) that were swept away by the movement of tectonic plates slowly into the sea, and the water flooded them and accumulated (buried) a layer upon a layer where they were subjected to intense pressure and heat underwater and slowly mixed (like dough), then transformed over millions of years into the so-called fossil fuels (petroleum, gas, and coal) which now constitute 86.5% of the world’s fuel sources.

How do we know that oil had organic residues?

We know this because it contains carbon chains that are only found in living organisms!

The question here is, how many tons of dinosaur meat do we need to produce 1,000 billion barrels of oil!? Or to say: How many tons of fish and algae residues do we need to produce 65 million barrels per day!?

And the second question: What about the discovery of oil ores in meteorites, moons, and planets of the solar system? (where we think life did not appear in the first place).

The third question: What about a type of rare oil (mostly extracted from Ultra-deep water zones ) that does not contain any organic carbon trace? which raises the question of its true origin and challenges the current theories.

There is an old theory that claims that Crude oil is one of the basic components of planets…meaning that oil, such as mercury, iron, and gold, is a substance that was formed with the formation of the earth — and then rose from its abyssal zone. This theory was supported by distinguished scholars such as Mendeleev (Russian Chemist), Henry Duffy (the English miner), and Galileo Galilei (the Italian physicist ). But this theory later changed after the discovery of carbonic compounds in the oil and the conviction of most scientists of its organic origin.

The presence of an organic trace in the oil does not mean that the oil itself is of organic origin. Recent discoveries have shown the existence of bacteria that live deep in the earth and thrive in extreme environments. They multiply inside oil deposits and pollute them with carbon materials. This is what Dr. Thomas Gould said, who made fifty geological observations that are inconsistent with the organic origin of oil.

A theory emerged in Russia in the mid-19th century claiming that the formation of oil was not due to organic decomposition of fossil fossils, but rather it formed naturally in the mantle layer, and that plate tectonics was responsible for the rise of oil to Earth’s crust; Gould went on to theorize that only methane gas formed in the mantle layer, and that after migrating to the Earth’s crust it turned into the upper alkanes( deep gas theory); Russian researchers hypothesized that even the upper alkanes formed in the lower mantle the Earth.

This theory is based on the fact that there are some complex organic compounds in chondrite meteorites, as well as some amounts of gaseous short alkanes in Ultramafic rock, which reinforces the assumption that the Earth’s core helps form hydrocarbons in general. A Russian research group was able to obtain some higher alkanes by subjecting methane to high pressures, while another showed that the conversion of sugars, a key component of biomass, into long alkane chains is an unfavorable process according to the laws of thermodynamic.

This theory is controversial, and several geological and geochemical evidence stand against it; however, it has found someone to defend it, especially with the finding of oil sources of non-biotic origin, despite the scarcity and economic unprofitability of extraction. It is considered one of the most famous theories in this field in addition to organic theory:

Chemical Theory: This theory is based on the Carbon–hydrogen bond and assumes that hydrocarbons were formed on earth’s crust, which then turned into oil, which over time began to appear above the surface of the Earth through various land cracks and wells were drilled for it later, which some scholars believe proves this theory and the presence of more than two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves in a certain region, which is the Arabian Gulf. That there is a lot of oil present in different parts of the world, which led to an increase in the depth of oil wells, as some wells reached a depth of more than one thousand five hundred meters in the ground

Mineral theory: In simpler terms, this theory says that oil is not originally decomposed organic matter, but rather it is minerals and that it is formed by the exposure of the remains of metal carbides to heavy water vapor, but this theory has not been accepted by many scientists because it is difficult to imagine the existence of large quantities of metal carbides to produce these huge quantities of oil.

You do not have to be a scientist to come up with a new theory, but some people like to use existing scientific theories to write articles and books about this topic claiming that they came up with new ideas. This is exactly what the overrated writer Jerome Corsi did in his boring book titled: Black Gold Stranglehold, in which he says that the current theory (which I mentioned above) about the origin of Petroleum formation is what made the world mistakenly believe that oil is a depleted resource and thus justifies the oil-producing countries to NOT decrease their production.

Jerome Corsi then concludes his message to the world, that the theory of Petroleum being of biological origin is a myth that must be replaced by the theory of continuous chemical reaction, and therefore producers should not rationalize their production on the pretext that it is (Oil) unsustainable.

Oil in our solar system

Basic hydrocarbons are ubiquitous in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. The original molecule, methane, undergoes photochemical reactions that transform it into chain molecules such as acetylene, ethylene, and ethane. The atmosphere of Titan contains high-mass hydrocarbon ions which have been observed to contain up to seven carbon atoms. In Titan’s atmosphere by the Cassini–Huygens probe, which also observed nitriles, nitrogen-containing hydrocarbons. Due to Titan’s -290 F temperature hydrocarbons condense and rain on the surface. This is the reason for the presence of hydrocarbon lakes on the surface of Titan

Methane on Mars:

In June 2018, NASA’s Curiosity rover had found complex organic compounds from clay rocks dating back three and a half billion years. These samples were analyzed using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM on the Curiosity rover), these rocks contained groups of organic molecules including sulfur-containing thiophene, aromatic compounds such as benzene and toluene, and aliphatic compounds such as propane and butane. The results of the analysis show major similarities with kerogen, the organic mixture that predates oil and natural gas on Earth.

Methane has been observed on multiple occasions, both on the surface of Mars and in its atmosphere. Scientists hope that the TGO probe will be able to confirm these observations and tell us more information about it, by using the sensors onboard that allow it to sense the presence of methane even if its levels are 100 times lower than what was observed in earlier times. TGO is also able to examine the composition of methane and determine the type of carbon it contains (note that it consists of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms), and thus gives an idea of ​​whether that gas was formed within the geology of Mars or came from past living organisms under the surface.

The rise in methane on Mars that was detected by the Curiosity Rover on June 16, 2013, was also observed the next day by the Mars Express space probe, which orbits Mars.

Scientists traced the methane “bubble” to an area near Gale Crater, a 96-mile-wide crater where Curiosity landed in 2012, which may have been the site of an ancient lake. NASA wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience earlier this year that methane is likely to have escaped from cracks in ice accumulating on Mars.

This discovery left the question open whether the gas was the result of geological or biological processes. And with the confirmation that methane is emanating from the surface of Mars, in at least one location, it makes it all surprising that the TGO probe found no traces of it. The TGO probe is part of the two-part ExoMars mission. In 2021, the British Rover Rosalind Franklin, which is manufactured by Airbus in Stevenage, will join the TGO probe. Rosalind Franklin will be able to conduct explorations under the surface of Mars, looking for signs of past (or present ) life on the Red Planet.

Methane in Uranus

Uranus is the “smallest” giant planet in the solar system, with a mass of about 14.5 times that of Earth, its diameter is four times ( Approximately) that of earth. As for its density, it is 1.27 g/cm3, making Uranus the second least dense planet in our solar system after Saturn. This density indicates that it is mainly composed of different forms of ice such as water ice, ammonia, and methane. The value of the total mass inside Uranus is not fully known. Simulation models show different numbers every time they’re run, but we know for certain that the value is between 9.3 and 13.5 times Earth’s mass. Rocky materials make up 0.5 to 3.7 of the Earth’s mass. While the remaining mass (0.5 to 1.6 earth’s mass) is mainly helium and hydrogen.

Methane in Neptune

The Blue Planet is the fourth-largest planet, and the farthest from the sun in our solar system, the fourth largest planet relative to its diameter. The mass of Neptune is roughly 17 times that of Earth. Neptune completes a full cycle around the sun every 164.8 years at an average distance of about 4.5 billion km.

Neptune’s atmosphere consists mainly of hydrogen and helium, plus hydrocarbons. It contains a high percentage of “water”, ammonia, and methane. The interior of Neptune is made of two things rocks and ice. Neptune’s atmosphere contains large amounts of methane and ammonia, and possibly water in the lower regions of the atmosphere. Methane molecules occupy the outer regions of the planet, which gives the planet a blue color, hence the blue planet.

Scientists believe that the planet Neptune consists mainly of hydrogen, helium, water, and silicate, and Neptune is a gaseous planet whose density is not large, and therefore it does not have a solid surface that can be walked on, while rocky planets consisting of rocks — such as Earth — are solid and walking on them is possible. Dense clouds rise above Neptune, covering its surface and making it difficult to see. In its nucleus, the gases are very pressurized, which is a mixture of gases in a liquid layer surrounding the central core of the planet, which consists of rocks and snow. The tilt of Neptune’s axis causes the planet to split into two halves in terms of temperature, the northern and southern halves, which leads to a change in temperatures and thus generate seasons (that is, there are seasons on it as on Earth).

Neptune is surrounded by a thick layer of fast-moving clouds, with winds blowing at speeds of up to 1,100 km (700 miles) per hour. The clouds far from the surface of Neptune consist mainly of frozen methane, and scientists believe that the clouds that lie under dark methane clouds are composed of hydrogen sulfide.

Oil on Titan

Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, the only moon with a dense atmosphere. Titan orbits Saturn at a distance of 3,000 million km from Earth. Titan is composed primarily of ice and rocky materials, we were not able to understand Titan before 2004 when the Cassini-Huygens mission obtained clear evidence of liquid hydrocarbon lakes in Titan’s polar regions, making it the only astronomical body other than Earth on which clear evidence of clumps of surface liquid has been discovered.

There are several earth-like features on Titan such as dunes, lakes, rivers, deltas, mountains, cold volcanoes, and liquid methane seas, but overall its surface is flat compared to other moons. Titan’s seasonal patterns (methane cycle ) are somehow similar to earth’s (water cycle) except for its temperature which is about 94 K (−179.2 °C).

When Voyager 2 passed near Titan in 1981 it discovered the presence of a dense atmosphere, consisting mainly of methane and nitrogen, and secondary components that lead to clouds formation of methane, ethane, and nitrogen saturated with smog.

Titan’s atmosphere in the stratosphere is 98.4% of nitrogen, with 1.6% composed mostly of hydrogen (0.1–0.2%) and methane (1.4%). There’s proof that other hydrocarbons might exist but in small amounts, Acetylene, Diacetylene (C₄H₂), Methylacetylene (Propane ), and Propyne (C3H8), and other gases such as cyanoacetylene, hydrogen cyanide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, cyanogen, argon, and helium. Hydrocarbons are believed to have formed in Titan’s upper atmosphere in reactions where methane is broken down by ultraviolet sunlight, which is why Titan has a thick orange haze.

Since Titan spends 95% of its time inside Saturn’s magnetosphere, the sun would slowly convert all of the methane into more complex hydrocarbons, but this process will take at least 60 million years since Titan receives about 1% as much sunlight as Earth.

Verifying the presence of nitrogen using ground-based observatories only is very difficult because nitrogen is an inert gas (Noble Gas), so scientists believe that it remains there untouched for a long time. On the other hand, solar radiation affects methane molecules, disintegrating them and re-forming them in the form of other compounds. The methane molecule originally has one coal atom, but solar radiation can reform it by adding additional coal atoms to it.

Methane and nitrogen remain in the gaseous state at Titan’s temperature, molecules are undoubtedly transformed into liquids, Scientists do not rule out that under Titan’s dense atmosphere there are lakes, rivers, and even oceans of molecules more complex than methane, such as ethane, which has two carbon atoms, or propane, which has three carbon atoms in each of its molecules, perhaps there are molecules with more than 3 carbon atoms! In the event of their presence, they’ll be in a solid form due to Titan’s cold temperature, but the mixture of ethane and liquid propane will dissolve them. We can conclude from this that Titan’s atmosphere obscures a vast ocean of gasoline that exceeds Earth’s oil wells !!

Image from the Cassini-Huygens probe showing Titan’s north polar region, the largest sea on Titan is the Kraken Mare.

“The calculations indicate that the Ligeia Mare Sea contains several carbohydrates equivalent to 40 times the Earth’s reserves of oil, while the total content of the lakes and seas of the Moon is equivalent to 300 times that of the Earth’s fuel.” According to the available data, the volume of liquid fuel in the Liege Sea is equivalent to 9,000 cubic kilometers of liquid methane, yet it ranks second because the first place is occupied by the Kraken Sea, whose volume of reserves is five times that of the Liege Sea. Experts say that if these reserves were transferred to the Earth in some way, the Earth’s oxygen would not be enough to burn it.

By analyzing information obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft before it ended its mission in 2017 by burning up in Saturn’s atmosphere, scientists concluded that some of Titan’s cold lakes composed of liquid hydrocarbons in this region are deep, while there may be others, shallow and seasonal hydrocarbons are compounds of hydrogen and carbon similar to the major components of oil and natural gas.

The researchers described these images and information sent from Cassini that the terrain of Titan resembles plateaus overlooking the nearby landscape, with lakes of fluid more than 100 meters deep, consisting mainly of methane. We’re not entirely sure how the lakes were formed, but current theories state that the lakes were formed when nearby rocks collapsed and chemically dissolved turning into a liquid.

The scientists also said that the “ghost lakes” appear broad and shallow during winter but evaporate or drain during spring, a process that takes seven years on Titan.

The discovery provides further evidence of the hydrological cycle on Titan’s surface, clouds rain liquid hydrocarbons that flow across the moon’s surface and then evaporate back into the sky, similar to Earth’s water cycle.

Oil on Triton ( Moon)

Triton, the largest moon of the planet Neptune, was discovered in 1846 by William Lassell, rotating in the opposite direction of Neptune (retrograde orbit). Data from the Voyager 2 spacecraft showed that the surface of Triton contains icy methane, and recent infrared measurements revealed the presence of carbon monoxide and dioxide. And active eruptions similar to a sparkling spring were observed that eject invisible nitrogen gas and particles of dark dust. Remarkably, Triton’s surface has the coldest temperature in the entire solar system, its surface temperature is estimated at (-235) degrees Celsius, while it reaches The average temperature on the surface of Pluto (-229 degrees Celsius). It is noted that the color of its large south polar cap is pinkish and that it tends to darken and redden from the blunt edge towards the north, perhaps due to its coloration by ultraviolet light and the radiation of its magnetic field that affects the methane gas present in its atmosphere and surface. There are very few craters on the moon’s surface, and it is a relatively young surface, and nearly half of the entire southern moon is covered in ice composed of frozen nitrogen and methane.

The unusual nature of its orbit and the similarity of most of its features with Pluto, and Neptune’s departure from Pluto’s path explains the historical connection between them, and this is the only explanation we currently have.

Triton is a little unusual, it is the only moon of that size that orbits in the opposite direction of its planet’s rotation, as retrograde orbit moons are not more than one-tenth the size of Triton, such as the moons of Jupiter, Ananke, Carme, Pasiphae, Sinope, and Saturn’s moon Phoebe, and because of its retrograde orbit, tidal interactions have formed between it and its planet Which makes its energy exhaust and weakens its orbit, and most likely in the distant future Triton will crash, either turning into a planetary ring (likely) or simply falling into Neptune (unlikely)

Nitrogen is the main gas in Triton’s atmosphere. There are also small amounts of methane and carbon monoxide which were only discovered on Triton in 2010 by ground-based observations, seasonal warming on Triton has caused The abundance of methane relative to nitrogen to increase four to five times since 1985.

Giant Nitrogen Fountains on Triton:

Most interesting and unexpected are snow volcanoes, the explosive substance of liquid nitrogen, dust, and methane formed under the surface. Such a volcano was observed during a Voyager flight when a plume was observed rising eight kilometers above the surface and extending about 140 kilometers downwind.

Giant Nitrogen Fountains on Triton:

As a result, the moon has a thin atmosphere of nitrogen and methane that reaches a height of 800 km above the surface of Triton, whose surface pressure is about 14 microbars, or 1/70,000 the surface pressure of the Earth. The particles of icy nitrogen may form thin clouds a few kilometers above its surface.

comets

Scientists studied the chemical composition of comets by analyzing the light emitted by them. This light is collected by telescopes that are placed on the ground or in space. Scientists were able to obtain a large amount of information about the composition of comets by studying Halley’s Comet in 1986 when the comet crossed the Earth’s orbit in that year. Four spacecraft flew near the comet and collected information about its chemical composition.

Halley’s Comet contains roughly equal amounts of snow and dust. Snow consists of frozen water, about 80%, frozen carbon monoxide, about 15%, and a mixture of frozen carbon dioxide, methane, and ammonia, 5%. It’s safe to assume that other comets have similar chemical compositions.

Spectroscopic observations on the comet of Hell-Bopp indicate the presence of multiple organic compounds (HCOOH, HCOOCH3, HC3N, CH3CN), many of which have not been seen in comets before. These complex molecules may have originally been present in the comet or may have been formed through chemical reactions in the comet’s halo. A paper was published in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2001 on the formation of organic molecules in the Hill-Bopp Comet.

Alcohol and Sugar in “Lovejoy”

Researchers at the Paris Observatory discovered that the comet “Lovejoy” contains ethyl alcohol (ethanol), sugars, and 19 other types of molecules, some of which have been identified on other comets, the comet Chori, for example.

The researchers explained that “the amount of alcohol that seeps every second of the ice in the comet, when it was in the closest position to the sun, is equivalent to the amount of alcohol contained in 500 bottles of wine,” noting that “the comets brought water to Earth, they also contributed to The emergence of other, more complex molecules, such as DNA.”

Guilty: Love Joy 2015

It is noteworthy that the comet will reappear in the outer solar system, after about 8,000 years.

Transferring Oil from outer space to Earth

Transferring oil from another planet to earth is not economically feasible at all, We would need to travel 3,000 million km to bring Methane from Titan. In addition, bringing methane from outside the earth and using ground oxygen to burn it will undoubtedly result in a structural imbalance in our planet.

Authors like Jerome Corsi and others try to convince people that oil is sustainable and nothing but a continuous chemical reaction even if it were (It’s not), it is clear that burning Fossil Fuels produces large quantities of carbon dioxide which traps heat in the atmosphere and leads to climate change.

Countries and their governments play an important role in reducing carbon emissions by enacting laws and establishing effective regulations and policies in this field, such as imposing a carbon tax on relevant factories and institutions.

There are individual solutions that can be done to contribute to reducing global warming, these include: Taking advantage of solar and wind energy, preventing deforestation, using public transportation when possible, or using electric or hybrid vehicles instead of regular ones, using reusable bags when shopping and of course recycling…it is possible to take measures by devising ways to create an environment where people can live without relying on such things.

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Mars is too beautiful to have humans on it!