Titan is one of only two worlds known to have open surface seas, and a cycle of evaporation, rainfall, and streams.
No industrial FUBAR is needed to fill Titan's seas with hydrocarbons, but its gleaming rivers and seas turn out to be short of acetyline, and its lower atmosphere deficient in hydrogen. Some curious chemistry appears to be going on there. H/T to commenter Thucydides for this link, which in turn takes you to this piece in New Scientist.
Hear these words of wisdom:
"Scientific conservatism suggests that a biological explanation should be the last choice after all non-biological explanations are addressed," says Mark Allen of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "We have a lot of work to do to rule out possible non-biological explanations."
That said, if at some point we find distinctive evidence pointing to life on Titan, things get fairly interesting. I am not going to jump on the Titan Direct bandwagon. For one thing, just on practical grounds the time scale will be long.
It will be a few years at least before a follow up Saturn/Titan robotic mission is launched, and outer system missions at our techlevel are great teachers of patience, so perhaps 15 or 20 years before the next probe lands on Titan. More will follow, because a human mission to Saturn space is beaucoup demanding. At 100 km/s the flat space trip, about 9.5 AU or 1.3 billion km, takes 13 million seconds, 150 days if you could go the whole way at top speed, which you can't.
Your mileage and orbital mechanics may vary, but 100 km/s is at the high end of Realistic [TM] travel speed. I will hocus pocus a few intermediate steps - the sufficiently geeky can play the home game to check my results - and find that a 1 milligee drive pushing a 1000 ton ship puts out around 10 gigawatts, and will take 20 million seconds, give or take, for the flat space brachistochrone. So now we are up to some 250 days for the one way trip.
We don't need a torch drive for this, but you need a sort of demi-torch, call it a flashlight drive, designed like a torch drive but with less extravagant handwaving. It might be one of the fancier fission drives, or a fusion drive. Note that our ship must be designed to operate through a more than 100 to 1 range of solar intensity, from 1 AU to beyond 10 AU; one more complication for heat management.
I am not sure that we make a training mission to Saturn space. By the time we are ready to send humans to Titan, they should be equipped to do real work there, and by then we will have an idea what the work will be.
Titan may be a mission for the next century, and if many people follow and build a society in Saturn space, that could be the work of two centuries more - which still brings us merely to the 24th century, still the midfuture, a mere 100,000 day trip down the river of historical time.
Meanwhile we are free to speculate about what may be there now, and in the future.
The top image of a lake on Titan is a detail from Astronomy Picture of the Day.
Bonus Space News: Also via New Scientist, report of the successful launch yesterday of the SpaceX Falcon 9, which reached orbit with a mockup Dragon capsule. Good work, SpaceX! This was a big launch for them, and everything came together.