March 30, 2022 | David F. Coppedge

Pluto Falsifies Deep Time

Planetary scientists are shocked at Pluto’s youth
and geological activity. They have no answers.


The ripple effects from the Pluto flyby continue. When the New Horizons spacecraft sped by Pluto and Charon in 2015, snapping pictures and taking measurements, planetary science changed. The cold, cratered ice ball that scientists expected was replaced by a colorful, volcanically active planet. A new paper by all the leading planetary scientists from the mission shows that the surprise effect from that day has not waned in the last 7 years. If anything, it has intensified. They cannot imagine how this body is still active after the 4.5 billion years they believe it has existed. Is that age a myth?

Singer et al., Large-scale cryovolcanic resurfacing on Pluto. Nature Communications 13, Article number: 1542 (29 March 2022)

The New Horizons spacecraft returned images and compositional data showing that terrains on Pluto span a variety of ages, ranging from relatively ancient, heavily cratered areas to very young surfaces with few-to-no impact craters. One of the regions with very few impact craters is dominated by enormous rises with hummocky flanks. Similar features do not exist anywhere else in the imaged solar system. Here we analyze the geomorphology and composition of the features and conclude this region was resurfaced by cryovolcanic processes, of a type and scale so far unique to Pluto. Creation of this terrain requires multiple eruption sites and a large volume of material (>104 km3) to form what we propose are multiple, several-km-high domes, some of which merge to form more complex planforms. The existence of these massive features suggests Pluto’s interior structure and evolution allows for either enhanced retention of heat or more heat overall than was anticipated before New Horizons, which permitted mobilization of water-ice-rich materials late in Pluto’s history.

The paper is open-access. Read it. The important thing to note is that the young features set upper limits on age. They speak of “relatively ancient, heavily cratered areas” but those are inferred from crater count dating, a method fraught with error (29 Jan 2019). What matters are the huge cryovolcanoes—as big as the largest active volcanoes on our much-larger Earth—which may still be active today.

This remote planet was supposed to be long dead. There’s no way that Pluto, way out there in the cold outer regions of the solar system, can be heated up again after 4.5 billion years. Look what other science news outlets are saying. Can they explain the activity?

We just don’t have a great understanding of how these smaller solar system bodies can have this active geology and they aren’t just cold and dead.

Pluto has a huge field of bumpy ice created by massive volcanoes (New Scientist, 29 March 2022). Leah Crane has no answers. “a large area of its surface – at least 180,000 square kilometres – is made up of ice that seeped out from underground via cryovolcanism relatively recently.” She quotes lead author Kelsi Singer: “We just don’t have a great understanding of how these smaller solar system bodies can have this active geology and they aren’t just cold and dead.

Pluto: ‘recent’ volcanism raises puzzle – how can such a cold body power eruptions? (The Conversation, 29 March 2022). David Rothery, with an extensive CV as a professor, author and planetary scientist, has no answers. He tries to give Pluto a billion years, but that’s not enough: “it’s only a quarter the age of the Solar System and no one knows how Pluto brewed up the heat needed to power these eruptions.” The paper puts 2 billion years as an upper limit:

The scarcity of craters on Wright Mons indicates a relatively young age, with a previously determined upper limit of ~1–2 Ga [billion years]. Given uncertainties in the impactor flux onto Pluto, and small number statistics, the crater retention age does not present a strong constraint, and many features in this area could be considerably younger.

Pluto from New Horizons 9/24/15

Pluto’s “snakeskin” terrain downloaded from New Horizons Sept 24, 2015.

The list of co-authors reads like a Who’s Who of top planetary scientists: Alan Stern, John Spencer, Francis Nimmo, Dale Cruikshank, Paul Schenk and many others, including of course New Horizons Chief Scientist, William McKinnon. These pros would know how to rescue deep time if they could, but scientific integrity demands facing the implications of empirical observations.

Given the low expected heat fluxes from Pluto’s interior, and Pluto’s cold surface temperatures (both topics discussed in the introduction), mobilizing material primarily made up of water ice is thermally challenging. However, the relative youth of the terrains implies that some heat must be available to emplace these features late in Pluto’s history. Multiple, massive water-ice cryovolcanic constructs present new pieces of information towards understanding Pluto’s thermal history, which complement other information from young areas on Pluto made up of volatile ices (e.g., Sputnik Planitia), and other small-volume features that have been proposed as effusions of ammonia water. Perhaps the stratigraphic arrangement of the interior structure has stored internal heat generated from the rocky core that was later released (e.g., the clathrate layer proposed by ref. 14).

Portion of Hyecho Palus SW of Sputnik Planitia on Pluto, showing Wright Mons (center). Credit: Schenk et al, Icarus, 2018. Wright Mons is one of two huge cryovolcanoes investigated in the new paper.

That’s just whistling in the dark. “Perhaps” is not a scientific word until confirmed by evidence. They want to keep Pluto old, but the youthfulness of the surface makes it “thermally challenging” to do so. Maybe they can appeal to the uniqueness of Pluto:

The range of cryovolcanic features found across the solar system is diverse. With the different conditions and surface materials present at Pluto, it is quite possible that any material movement onto the surface may not resemble that of other bodies. The extrusion of icy material onto the surface of a body with extremely low temperatures, low atmospheric pressure, low gravity, and the abundance of the volatile ices found on Pluto’s surface make it unique among the visited places in the solar system.

How Unique Is Pluto?

Can Pluto be dismissed as a one-off case, an anomaly that science will fit into deep time eventually? Behold other youthful surfaces.

On Icy Enceladus, Expansion Cracks Let Inner Ocean Boil Out (University of California at Davis, 23 March 2022).

Saturn’s vicinity is cold, too. For all intents and purposes, its small moons are in the same boat as Pluto: they should be frozen and dead. But little Enceladus, as wide as Iowa, is spewing out material in 100 geyser vents powerful enough to create a ring around Saturn (the E-ring). “How such a small, cold world can sustain so much geological activity has been an enduring scientific puzzle,” this article confesses. It offers a “proposed model” of 100-million-year cycles that allow deep water to escape through cracks occasionally, but never addresses the real issue: the loss of heat long ago, and the ongoing loss of material that escapes to space. The “proposed model” does not explain Jupiter’s moon Europa, which may also be emitting material.

Titan’s prevailing circulation might drive highly intermittent, yet significant sediment transport (Comola et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 24 March 2022).

A team of scientists believes they have figured out how icy grains can move around the dunes circling Titan’s equatorial regions in spite of weak winds. That may be interesting, but can it be sustained for billions of years? Wouldn’t the grains have ground down to powder long ago? Where is the new icy “sand” coming from? There are other problems at Titan which we have reported over the years: the lack of an expected surface ocean, an upper limit on the age of its atmosphere, and the lack of ethane that leading Titan experts predicted must have been accumulating on the surface for billions of years.

Scientists discover distant long-period comets quickly fade away (University of Oklahoma).

Comet Hale-Bopp 1997 (DFC)

Based on a paper today (30 March 2022) in Science Advances, Nathan Kaib argues that comets fade more rapidly than expected. Scientists knew this from short-period comets near Earth orbit, but now long-period comets (LPCs) beyond the orbit of Saturn cannot last long, computer models and observations indicate. This is because as they pass near the sun, LPC orbits are altered and brought nearer the sun the next time around. Read Kaib’s evidence and reasons for this in the press release and in the open-access paper.

Revelations on Jupiter’s formation, evolution and interior: Challenges from Juno results (Helled et al., Icarus May 15 2022 issue).

The Juno mission to Jupiter is forcing scientists to revise their models of planet formation again. One of the new models brings in planetary scientists’ favorite rescue device: a giant impact. “These novel scenarios require somewhat special and specific conditions,” the authors say. Better raise money for more spacecraft missions.

Virtually every object in the solar system visited by spacecraft has surprised scientists with youthful features. There are more falsifications of deep time than confirmations! Secular scientists refuse to follow the evidence to its logical conclusion, though, because they love their deep time. They cling to their billions of years like security blankets, because deep time is a requirement for Darwinism. It holds together the entire scientific materialist worldview.

Biblical creationists cannot prove from any of these articles or papers that the solar system is only a few thousand years old. What they can do, however, is argue for reasonable upper limits on age, based on the evidence and the word of the scientists who desperately want long ages but keep finding youthfulness in solar system bodies. An upper limit is what it says it is: an upper limit. Pluto, Enceladus, and these other places cannot be older than what the evidence shows.

Upper limits estimated for the ages of some solar system objects are far less than the assumed ages. If the most that scientists can account for is 10 million years, or 100 million, or even one billion years—if those are upper limits—is the rest of the time even real?

If these objects cannot be near as old as Darwinism needs, then Darwinism is falsified and deep time with it. Once that realization sinks in, the implications are enormous. Scientists would have to rule out evolution with its Stuff Happens Law and material causes, and take creation seriously. After that, one can revisit the alleged lower limits from models that give a billion years, or 100 million years, and question whether those models were trustworthy in the first place.

Spike Psarris has announced a major update to his acclaimed DVD, “Our Created Solar System,” that is part of his series “What You Aren’t Being Told About Astronomy.” There’s been a lot of news about the planets since his first version came out, so expect many new surprises in the next version. You can subscribe to his newsletter at for updates and previews.


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  • mlmticket says:

    Evolution is a metaphysical research program as Popper said. You can’t falsify it because they create new stories every time they encounter with bad new observation.

    Thanks for your great articles.

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