February 8, 2024 | David F. Coppedge

Another Saturn Moon Hired for Astrobiology

Liquid water under Mimas? Impossible.
But if it is there, could life be far behind?


— Astrobiologists  are easily astonished at their own imaginations. —

Mimas is a little icy moon outside of Saturn’s rings, just under 250 miles in diameter. It would fit within Arizona with room to spare. Few are the astronomers who thought this little moon would have a subsurface ocean of liquid water – till today.

Tiny Mimas is the first icy moon outside Saturn’s main rings.

When the embargo was lifted on a paper in Nature, all the toadies in the Big Science Media raced to get their boilerplate to the internet, hoping to compete for clicks for their advertisers. This custom is rigged to popularize the consensus Darwin-materialist narrative. Since most science journalists are trained to treat “scientists” as true prophets, and were trained in Darwin Indoctrination Centers (known as public schools), their duty is to write up the expert consensus as creatively as possible, not to question it. Reporters can ridicule politicians, but criticizing something a NASA scientist says would be way outside the rules of propriety for a science journalist. So here we go again, watching all the rubber ducks quack in unison: “Mimas might have water! That means it might have life!”

Saturn’s ‘Death Star’ moon Mimas may have an ocean scientists never believed could exist (Space.com, 7 Feb 2024). Mimas is sometimes dubbed the “Death Star moon” because its large crater Herschel makes it resemble the Death Star from Star Wars I.

Reporter Robert Lea was sure to include all the astrobiological talking points. “Astronomers have discovered that a tiny moon of Saturn, named Mimas, may harbor a hidden liquid ocean beneath its thick icy shell and may thus have the conditions for habitability.”

Water and rock interactions are thought to have played a vital role in the origins and continued existence of life on Earth, meaning such chemistry on Mimas is indeed an exciting prospect for investigations of life and habitability in the solar system.

We coined a term hydrobioscopy to refer to NASA’s persistent focus on water in the search for extraterrestrial life. Water may be a necessary condition for life, but it is not sufficient. Your body is 60% water. Should you therefore be called nothing more than a water balloon? (see reductionism in the Baloney Detector). If you find silicon, does that mean that computers might emerge from it? Valéry Lainey at the Paris Observatory in France and his colleagues are the lead culprits for perpetuating hydrobioscopy in this latest case.

“Mimas is a small object that looks extremely cold, with no geologic activity, and you would never expect any geophysical activity inside like heating, or contact between water and with silicates in its rocky core,” Lainey said. “Finding this happening is really astonishing.

Has water been observed at Mimas? No. Has life been found there? No. Conclusion: astrobiologists and their science reporter lackeys are easily astonished at their own imaginations.

Mimas’ surprise: tiny moon holds young ocean beneath icy shell (Queen Mary University of London, 7 Feb 2024). This article contains Nature‘s “Mimas film” explaining the thesis of the paper. A mixture of information about the physics of Saturn’s moons and hydrobioscopy dogma, the video summarizes the evidence used to deduce a liquid ocean under surface.

Like almost all press releases from academia, this one gives 15 minutes of fame to a homeboy, Nick Cooper (a co-author of the Nature paper). “The existence of a recently formed liquid water ocean makes Mimas a prime candidate for study, for researchers investigating the origin of life,” Nick says. Must be funding time at NASA.

Saturn’s moon Mimas may be hiding a vast global ocean under its ice (New Scientist, 7 Feb 2024). Alex Wilkins dittos all the talking points from the Nature paper and press release. To his credit, he does give a paragraph to a skeptic of the consensus. Here is William McKinnon from the New Horizons mission that flew by Pluto in 2015:

“It’s remarkable if it’s true,” says William McKinnon at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. But there are still things that don’t quite add up, he says, like the vast 139-kilometre-wide Herschel crater, which was formed from an enormous impact. If Mimas’s icy shell really is only tens of kilometres deep, then we would have seen evidence of this in the impact and aftermath, like a warped crater floor, says McKinnon. Also, it is unlikely that we would have a front-row seat for such a short and unique time in Mimas’s long history, he says. “I remain a Mimas ocean sceptic,” says McKinnon.

McKinnon is a skeptic of the ocean under Mimas, but is he a skeptic of hydrobioscopy? Recall that he was astonished at the evidence of recent geological activity at Pluto (30 March 2022).

Diagram of Saturn's E-ring created by Enceladus

Diagram of Saturn’s E-ring created by Enceladus with its active geysers.

The Nature of Hydrobioscopy

Here are the three publications by Nature on February 7th: first, two news articles, then the research paper by Lainey et al.

Mimas’s surprise ocean prompts an update of the rule book for moons (Nature News and Views, 7 Feb 2024). “The detection of liquid water oceans under the icy surfaces of outer Solar System moons suggests that these moons could provide abodes for life under conditions that differ markedly from those on Earth.”

The Solar System has a new ocean — it’s buried in a small Saturn moon (Nature News, 7 Feb 2024). Alexandra Witze highlights one of the surprising conclusions from the paper: “The sea within Saturn’s satellite Mimas formed within the last 25 million years, a blink of the eye in geologic terms.” More on this later.

A recently formed ocean inside Saturn’s moon Mimas (V. Lainey and six colleagues, Nature, 7 Feb 2024). This is the official research paper. The team believes something else astonishing, mentioned in the Abstract: “Our simulations show that the ocean–ice interface reached a depth of less than 30 kilometres only recently (less than 2–3 million years ago), a time span too short for signs of activity at Mimas’s surface to have appeared.

How did this tiny moon get an ocean, and why so recently? Does that make sense?

Is this a scientific truth or a theory rescue device? Let us think about this claim.

Weird Aspects of the Ocean Claim

Be aware that the ocean was not observed, but inferred by indirect means. These include well-known orbital processes like libration, precession, and resonance. Whether those created sufficient tidal forces to heat the interior to melt ice enough for an ocean seems debatable. The research team narrowed the possible causes for the orbital characteristics down to two models: a flattened core, or a subsurface ocean. Nature‘s Mimas video recounts the reasoning behind the ocean conclusion. But there are questions that need to be addressed:

1. Cassini’s direct measurements represent a tiny amount of time (a few years). How do they know the orbital characteristics have been constant for millions of years?

2. The assigned age of 25 million years for the ocean represents an infinitesimal slice of Saturn’s assumed lifetime of 4.5 billion years. Why did the ocean form only recently, such that it is present now when human beings can infer it? (see diagram below).

3. Mimas has clearly suffered numerous impacts, including the gigantic Herschel crater that almost obliterated the moon. Why are there no surface indications of an ocean, as seen on neighboring Enceladus? (This was McKinnon’s objection.) Locating the ocean too deep, and saying it formed recently, sound like theory rescue devices.

4. The recent moon idea runs counter to secular scientists’ preference for avoiding human exceptionalism. McKinnon also complained about the timing: “it is unlikely that we would have a front-row seat for such a short and unique time in Mimas’s long history.”

Finding recent youthful phenomena contradicts the assumed lifetime of Saturn. Now, Mimas joins Titan and Enceladus in examples of special pleading.

5. Why the rush to find more water in the solar system? Is this a ruse to get more money for astrobiology projects? The public could get wise to this. The more moons with water, the more funding is requested by planetary scientists. This looks like a conflict of interest.

These questions stand apart from the main objection in this and all the other hydrobioscopy projects. Water is necessary but not sufficient for life. Focusing on water is like focusing on iron on Mars and imagining there could be skyscrapers and cities there. A living cell has been compared to a city, considering the number and complexity of its parts and their interactions.

More News from the Solar System

The Juno mission at Jupiter made history this month by making the closest flyby of Io in a generation. Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. The new detailed images from Feb 3 will be subjects for intense research, but are also fascinating in appearance. Space.com wrote about it yesterday, February 6th. The full gallery of new images, many not yet processed, are available for browsing at NASA’s Junocam website. Put in the date of Feb 3, 2024 to see the Io images.

Io at Jupiter and Enceladus and Titan at Saturn are among the most convincing evidences for youth in the outer solar system. The processes observed at these bodies cannot have been going on for billions of years like they are now.

Remember that ten million years, or even 100 million years, is far too short for Darwinism (see chart above). The scientific observations cannot date these bodies to a few thousand years, but here’s the reasoning: if enough bodies in the solar system have upper limits on age that is short of Darwinism’s requirements, then Darwinism is dead. Other explanations for planets and moons must be considered fairly. The Earth itself contains numerous evidences of youth.

But why would planets, moons, and our ideally-habitable Earth exist, if they are young, and could not form by material processes? Creation must be considered, and the Biblical creation account has the advantage of Eyewitness testimony.

Io global view from Galileo mission (NASA). The spots are all volcanoes, not craters. Juno found more active plumes on its Feb. 3, 2024 flyby.



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