June 19, 2020 | David F. Coppedge

Saturn Scientists Dodge Age Issues

Several papers have appeared this month about Saturn and its moons, but they all gloss over the implications for long ages.

Planetary scientists appear reluctant to consider the age implications for phenomena at Saturn and its moons. They need to account for these phenomena going on for billions of years. What Cassini scientists found often failed to confirm predictions of long ages. Now, they don’t like to talk about it.

Saturn and its rings as seen by Cassini, April 25, 2016.


Subsurface vortexes may have created Saturn’s mysterious hexagon (Live Science). The south pole of Saturn has a huge hurricane-like circular vortex, but the north pole has a unique geometric standing wave in the shape of a hexagon. This article describes a new theory for the origin of the hexagon, but says nothing about whether it could survive for billions of years. The paper in PNAS by Yadev and Bloxham, “Deep rotating convection generates the polar hexagon on Saturn,” ignores the question also. It only notes that the hexagon has been observed for 40 years since Voyager first observed it. If it is a long-lived phenomenon, could it really last billions of years? If it is a recent, short-lived phenomenon, it raises a philosophical question: why did it form so recently that humans could observe it? Another question that should be asked is why only Saturn, and not the other gas giants, has such a feature.


Evidence for Volcanic Craters on Saturn’s Moon Titan (Planetary Science Institute). Some overlapping craters have been observed near the poles of Titan, not far from where the oily lakes of methane have been observed.

“The close association of the proposed volcanic craters with polar lakes is consistent with a volcanic origin through explosive eruptions followed by collapse, as either maars or calderas,” Wood said. “The apparent freshness of some craters may mean that volcanism has been relatively recently active on Titan or even continues today.” …

“That these features are at the polar regions, near the lakes of methane, may indicate methane, nitrogen or some other volatile may power them. The features appear relatively fresh, meaning they could still be forming today,” Wood said.

One again, though, scientists need to account for this dynamic process for billions of years. If not long-lasting, why are we seeing them today? Could these craters be cycling through explosive eruptions, followed by collapse, over and over for billions of years? They don’t ask that question, nor does the Abstract of the paper in JGR Planets address it.

The root of anomalously specular reflections from solid surfaces on Saturn’s moon Titan (Nature Communications). This paper published on June 16 is authored by some of the most famous Titan experts, including Charles Elachi (former JPL director), Steve Wall, Ralph Lorenz and Mr. Titan himself, Jonathan Lunine. Lunine, who has studied Titan since Voyager days, was among those predicting a global ocean covering Titan, as shown in this slide:

On approach to the Saturn system, the Cassini team got excited by a specular reflection seen in radar wavelengths (a specular or “mirror” reflection is like the bright shine on Earth’s ocean from the sun as seen from an airplane or from orbit). When Cassini arrived at Titan in 2004, however, no global ocean was detected. In fact, the equatorial regions of Titan were blanketed with sand dunes. A few lakes were found in polar regions, but no global ocean. This paper revisits those those early hopes, and warns future scientists that specular reflections may or may not indicate oceans or seas of liquid. They advise a new definition of “specular” to avoid confusion in the future.

What is missing from this paper by these world experts on Titan is any mention of the missing ethane. They also fail to address how and why their predictions of a global ocean were so wrong. Most disturbingly, they fail to mention how Titan could have survived in its current state for 4.5 billion years, when they know more than any scientist in the world that ethane should be raining down on Titan, and it should be there if Titan is old. Very little ethane was found as a percentage of the liquid in the polar lakes.

Titan is Migrating Away from Saturn 100 Times Faster than Previously Predicted (CalTech). It’s a bit embarrassing for any scientist to be off by two orders of magnitude. Measurements from Cassini indicate that Titan is moving away from Saturn 100 times faster than earlier thought. Here’s another illustration of groupthink, failing to question assumptions again.

“Most prior work had predicted that moons like Titan or Jupiter’s moon Callisto were formed at an orbital distance similar to where we see them now,” says Caltech’s Jim Fuller, assistant professor of theoretical astrophysics and co-author on the new paper. “This implies that the Saturnian moon system, and potentially its rings, have formed and evolved more dynamically than previously believed.”

Under the new scenario, Titan would have had to form close to Saturn to be where it is now after 4.5 billion Darwin Years. Because of Titan’s massive size (about as large as the planet Mercury), that would have had to wreak havoc among the inner moons of Saturn. Are any of the Saturn scientists worrying about that?

The geyser plumes of Enceladus can be seen from long distances

Geyser plumes of Enceladus


Spontaneous formation of geysers at only one pole on Enceladus’s ice shell (PNAS). In this paper published June 16, Wanying Kang and Glenn Flierl try to answer why geysers appear only on one pole of Enceladus (the south pole), and not at both poles, or anywhere else on the moon. They come up with a mathematical model:

We found that, from an infinitesimal random perturbation early in the moon’s history, a significant level of asymmetry can build up over millions of years. Eventually, the ice over one of the two poles could crack open.

Amusingly, the model with its “infinitesimal random perturbation” that ended up with cracks at one pole only fits Enceladus, but not Europa – or any other body in the solar system. It’s usually not good in science to build an argument with a sample size of one.

More importantly, these scientists also gloss over the age question. Could the geysers have been erupting for 4.5 billion years? If the “random perturbation” occurred early in the moon’s history, did the geysers start erupting then? How many quadrillions of tons of water would have been erupted over billions of years? Cassini scientists know that a substantial portion of that icy ejecta escapes Enceladus, and forms the E-ring, which is very tenuous, and subject to numerous disrupting forces. How could that continue over the assumed lifetime of the solar system? Inquiring minds want to know.

Why are all the world’s experts on the Saturn system completely dodging the age question? It’s important; they’re telling the world that the planets are all billions of years old. These are not the only phenomena at Saturn that indicate a much younger age; the rings must be young, too, all the ringmasters say. Iapetus, the Phoebe ring, and migration of the inner icy moons add to the age difficulties. To add to the secularists’ problems, many other bodies in the solar system look far younger than the moyboys say they are.

Some may retort that these bodies are not claimed to be thousands of years old, like Biblical creationists say. Granted, the secularists do estimate upper limits of tens or hundreds of millions of years. The problem that still plagues their beliefs is that a hundred million years is 1/45th the assumed age of 4.5 billion years (see diagram below). If that is truly an upper limit for these and other solar system phenomena, why are we humans seeing so many special conditions today, in the last 45th of the assumed lifetime of the solar system? But if secularists were to accept 100 million years as an upper limit, then Darwin is up a creek; he cannot evolve life into all its forms in such a small amount of time. And if Darwinism is falsified, the whole secular worldview collapses.

That being the case, creationists would press further: without Darwin, why do scientists even need to imagine 100 million years?

Recommended Resource: Spike Psarris is updating his excellent documentary, “Our Created Solar System,” with the latest material about Pluto. If you want to see a really tough case for the moyboys, watch it when it is released. (The episode is viewable to subscribers.) Pluto refuted all the predictions that it would be a dead, crater-covered world. The New Horizons team was flabbergasted at how young it looked, even though there is no physical reason such a distant body should be active today.


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