Enceladus Geyser Heat Much Higher Than Thought Possible
The Enceladus problem – accounting for the heat source of a tiny moon of Saturn – just jumped by more than an order of magnitude. “Cassini Finds Enceladus Is a Powerhouse,” reported Jet Propulsion Laboratory today. “Heat output from the south polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus is much greater than was previously thought possible,” the press release said; “….15.8 gigawatts, approximately 2.6 times the power output of all the hot springs in the Yellowstone region, or comparable to 20 coal-fueled power stations.” That’s “more than an order of magnitude higher than scientists had predicted” based on a re-analysis of infrared data taken in 2008. Previous estimates were 1.1 to 1.4 gigawatts.
The results were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research on March 4. Lead author of the study, Carly Howett [Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado] was dumbfounded by the results. “The mechanism capable of producing the much higher observed internal power remains a mystery and challenges the currently proposed models of long-term heat production,” she remarked. The only suggestion for a way out of the problem was to propose episodic outbursts. “A possible explanation of the high heat flow observed is that Enceladus’ orbital relationship to Saturn and Dione changes with time, allowing periods of more intensive tidal heating, separated by more quiescent periods,” the article suggested. That proposal, however, has the bad philosophical side effect of making our observations a special time: “This means Cassini might be lucky enough to be seeing Enceladus when it’s unusually active.”
Since extra heat might melt the ice, an appeal to life was predictable: “The possibility of liquid water, a tidal energy source and the observation of organic (carbon-rich) chemicals in the plume of Enceladus make the satellite a site of strong astrobiological interest,” Howett said.
Quick! Look over there! The use of the L-word is a tactic similar to the used car salesman pointing to a hired streaker when the prospective buyer is about to look under the hood (04/27/2009, 06/26/2009). A persistent buyer might not be distracted. Then the salesman tries another tactic: “That’s strange; it was working before. Every time I tried it the engine ran fine. You just happened to come by at a bad time.”
Among all the other Saturn surprises (12/07/2010, 02/02/2009), Enceladus was already a big problem for the assumed age of the solar system (A.S.S.) (08/30/2005, 03/13/2007, 01/28/2011 bullet 2). Now it is a BIG problem (pronounce it beeeeeg; señor. But señorita: Encéladus is not pronounced like enchilada).
Darwin skeptics who nevertheless cling to Lyell’s myth of millions and billions of years should take note of observations like these (08/04/2007). The two moyboys (03/31/2007 commentary), Charlie & Charlie (Lyell & Darwin), were part of the same radical movement Peter warned about (II Peter 3:3-6).