Titan's lakes are composed of a wide variety of hydrocarbons. These elements are extremely valuable to life in the outer solar system, as they can be recombined chemically to form food. Taking advantage of this, a number of domes are established starting in the 2080's near the lakes' shores to harvest hydrocarbons. First, the surface ice (which comprises most of the solid surface of Titan) is mined, melted, and split into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis. The lakes' hydrocarbons are pumped from the lakes into stations where they are mixed with the oxygen derived from the ice—that is to say, burned—resulting in carbon dioxide and water, as well as much needed heat. Food crops, grown with artificial lights, process the CO2 and water into useful food and breathable oxygen. This food supplies the entire Saturn system. A Titan colony is self sustaining as long as it has power to supply these processes, and invaluable food resources are worth far more than the small amount of nuclear fuel needed to support power generation. The first colonists to establish a sustainable farm on Titan live in the large dome known as Othrys, and begin exporting their produce in 2090. Othrys quickly becomes wildly wealthy, and its citizens start expanding their influence, largely with Herschel Station in orbit around Titan. Although Hyperion Station is the hub of Saturnian life early on, Herschel Station begins to overshadow it in the last decade of the 21st century.
Though the air is not breathable and the temperature is unlivable, the presence of an atmosphere makes Titan surprisingly easy to survive.