November 7, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

Enceladus Cannot Spout for Billions of Years

You can tell when theorists are getting desperate. Their assumptions get more and more implausible, and they gloss over falsifying facts.

Enceladus, the little geysering moon studied intensely by Cassini from 2004 to 2017, puts out so much material it creates a large, broad ring around Saturn – the E-ring. Keeping this moon’s completely unexpected activity going for even a few million years has been challenging, let alone billions. NASA just sent its latest idea up the flagpole to see if anybody salutes. Announced by JPL, the article “Powering Saturn’s active moon” introduces the b-word in the first sentence:

Heat from friction could power hydrothermal activity on Saturn’s moon Enceladus for billions of years if the moon has a highly porous core, according to a new modeling study by European and U.S. researchers working on NASA’s Cassini mission.

The basic idea is this: if Enceladus has a porous core with 20 to 30 percent empty space, if the rock is the right kind, if the pore spaces are filled with liquid water, if Enceladus receives tidal pumping, if it has a global ocean of sufficient depth, and if hydrothermal activity occurs, then perhaps the activity can be sustained for a long time. The perhapsimaybecouldness index is sky-high in this model, but the moyboys have no choice: they have to keep this tiny moon going for the age of the solar system.

Ocean? Water? That vision sent the media into a hydrobioscopic frenzy:

  • “The internal ocean of Saturn’s moon Enceladus could be old enough to have evolved life, finds study” (Monica Grady at The Conversation).
  • “Enceladus’s hot, gritty core may cook up ingredients for life” (Leah Crane at New Scientist).
  • “Choblet and his colleagues found this effect could heat Enceladus from tens of millions of years to billions of years. This may be long enough to supply the kinds of conditions needed for life to develop, they said.” (

Many readers, seeing the b-word billions in the opening sentence, may feel sufficiently nudged to return to the cozy warmth of the moyboy consensus. Only careful readers reading below the fold may run into the problems with this model:

  1. “The ocean in Enceladus would have frozen within 30 million years,” the scientists admit. That’s less than 1% of its assumed age leaving a huge amount of time to keep the moon warm enough to spout.
Tiny Enceladus orbits outside Saturn's rings

Look how small this moon is!

2. “The amount of energy required to produce these temperatures is more than scientists think could be provided by decay of radioactive elements in the interior.” Scientists cannot, therefore, rely on the contribution of heat from the typical radioactive sources.

3. Enceladus lacks enough mass to keep losing some of it to space for billions of years. The press release says,

The researchers estimate that, over time (between 25 and 250 million years), the entire volume of Enceladus’ ocean passes through the moon’s core. This is estimated to be an amount of water equal to two percent of the volume of Earth’s oceans.

In other words, in 5% of its assumed age, Enceladus would have already lost its entire ocean. For the entire age (assumed to be 4.5 billion years), Enceladus would have lost its entire ocean through its geysers twenty times over! In Earth terms, that would be 40% of all the water in all the oceans on Earth—for a moon the diameter of Arizona (about 300 miles).

Notice how the lead author minimizes the implications of Cassini’s observations:

Where Enceladus gets the sustained power to remain active has always been a bit of a mystery, but we’ve now considered in greater detail how the structure and composition of the moon’s rocky core could play a key role in generating the necessary energy,” said the study’s lead author, Gaël Choblet from the University of Nantes in France.

It’s just “a bit” of a mystery. No big deal, right? Only a ‘bit’. Notice that Choblet says it “has always been” a mystery. They’ve had 13 years to solve this problem. The latest idea, considering the problems listed above, is not a convincing case. It only “could” play a “key role” in the solution, Choblet says. That’s like saying that Mark Wahlberg “could play a key role” in his Broadway flop if he could sign him up.

The paper is published in Nature Astronomy. Sure enough, they add tons of hoc to their ad hoc model to hawk it. They rely on unobserved “orbital evolution” of the moon’s eccentricity. They tweak the mineral composition of the core, which nobody can see, relying on serpentine but no brucite or magnetite that would reduce those billions of years. Assume, assume, assume. For example:

Even though the conditions inside Enceladus’ core are different from those considered in laboratory tests (lower frequency, higher pressure), we assume that a similar trend should occur when the core materials are subjected to cyclic strain. This assumption will have to be confirmed by future mechanical tests in the appropriate range.

It’s clear they are forcing Enceladus to be old, not following the evidence where it leads. Assumptions about billions of years lead the way in this clumsy walk. As for life out there, they’ve had 150 years to figure out life by chance, and are even further away from an answer than they were in the heady days of visions of Darwin’s warm little ponds.

This paper seems to be a desperate attempt to answer creationists. Since CEH has taken the lead for years in calling Saturn’s billions of years into question (with possibly the help of Spike Psarris and his videos), we might even presume they are trying to respond to us. Of course, they would never say that. They mustn’t acknowledge we even exist. But since we have put out dozens of articles that quote the moyboys’ own scientific papers and show the folly in their arguments, and since they know a lot of people read it, what other motivation do they have? If Enceladus cannot be old, nor Titan, nor Saturn, nor the rings, then their moyboy house crumbles and Darwinism with it.

And we demand of the secular media: quit the hydrobioscopy act. We’re onto you. You know it’s a distraction, a red herring. Teasing your audience’s attention away from one problem with a far bigger problem is not helpful. Focus on the facts at hand: Enceladus is pumping 200 kilograms of stuff per second to space. That’s 6.3 billion kilograms per year! Over the assumed age of the solar system this little moon would pump 30 billion billion kilograms of stuff at that rate. Can anyone believe that this little moon has discharged a third of its mass through its geysers? If that is not sufficiently disturbing to shock you back to reality, what about Jupiter’s moon Io? It would have erupted 40 times its entire mass through its volcanoes in 4.5 billion years. Don’t be ridiculous. Follow the evidence where it leads: these (and many other objects in the solar system) are young.






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