My idea is to send an hypothetical lander/rover to Titan, and recover from this some samples of rocks...
To create a very efficient engine, I suppose to carry only liquid oxygen, and burn the atmospheric tholins.
Do you think it's possible?

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    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind that the mixture ratios oxidizer:fuel when burning hydrocarbons are usually over 2:1, the oxidizer is the most massive component. $\endgroup$ – SE - stop firing the good guys Dec 31 '16 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ Also, why use something which is only present in traces, when you have lots of methane in the atmosphere? $\endgroup$ – oefe Dec 31 '16 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @oefe Because due to the density of methane, is present only in low atmosphere: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Titan#/media/… 0 - 30 km methane 30 - 44 km ethane 44 - 310+ km tholins $\endgroup$ – Stefano Balzarotti Dec 31 '16 at 22:46

Tholins encompass a large range of hydrocarbon compounds, could be anything from heavy oil-like substances to something more akin to plastics. So it'll burn, the question is if you can use it in an engine. Heavy oil needs a large engine, plastics aren't really usable.

There are two ways around this: either burn the tholins directly and build a steam engine (or e.g. a Stirling engine), or crack the tholins into lighter compounds and burn those. Cracking needs a much larger installation than a steam engine.


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