Heat of Saturn Moon Far Surpasses Long-age Expectations | The Institute for Creation Research
Heat of Saturn Moon Far Surpasses Long-age Expectations

Enceladus, a small moon that orbits in the E-ring of the planet Saturn, has provided a number of surprising astronomical discoveries in recent years. A new report shows it once again defying expectations. Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have found that it produces far more heat than they ever predicted.

The Cassini spacecraft collected heat output data from the moon. Cassini had earlier performed similar studies on Saturn and found that the planet is too hot to fit the standard long-age cosmological model.1

In that standard model, Enceladus, like all the moons and planets in the solar system, was born as a spin-off from a ball of hot gas billions of years ago. After a few million years, the planets and moons should have lost all their original heat (which itself is given no explanation) to the surrounding universe. For this reason, evolutionary astronomers have been pointing to the still-ongoing process of "tidal friction" as a means of generating the heat that is currently observed.

The moon flexes due to gravitational attraction as it approaches and then retreats from a nearby mass, thus generating friction in its rocky crust. According to JPL, a 2007 study estimated the heat output of Enceladus based on tidal friction over millions of years. It predicted that Enceladus should have no more than 1.1 gigawatts of heat output due to tidal forces, plus a small additional amount from natural radioactivity inside the moon.

But that estimate apparently falls far short of the reality. A JPL press release caption stated that "the south polar terrain of Saturn's moon Enceladus emits much more power than scientists had originally predicted."2 The report, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, found that the "power of Enceladus' south polar terrain is 15.8 ± 3.1 gigawatts"3—over 10 times the expected amount!

In 2009, ICR News reported on the giant plume of icy particles that is being actively ejected from a fissure in the moon.4 If Enceladus is billions of years old, then why did the jet-supplying energy not fizzle out millions of years ago? This question still has no satisfactory answers from an old-universe perspective.

However, if Enceladus is only thousands of years old, as is consistent with the written testimony of the Maker, then such plumes pose no mystery—and neither does the presence of so much heat. Enceladus continues to emit a youthful glow.5

References

  1. Thomas, B. Where Is the Universe Headed--to Order or Chaos? ICR News. Posted on icr.org November 30, 2010, accessed March 11, 2011.
  2. Cassini Finds Enceladus is a Powerhouse. Jet Propulsion Laboratory press release, March 7, 2011.
  3. Howett, C. J. A. et al. 2011. High heat flow from Enceladus' south polar region measured using 10–600 cm-1 Cassini/CIRS data. Journal of Geophysical Research. 116: E03003.
  4. Thomas, B. Planetary Quandaries Solved: Saturn Is Young. ICR News. Posted on icr.org May 7, 2009, accessed March 11, 2011.
  5. Coppedge, D. 2006. Enceladus: A Cold, Youthful Moon. Acts & Facts. 35 (11). 

Image credit: NASA/JPL/SWRI/SSI

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on March 21, 2011.

The Latest
NEWS
Destruction of Plants Fits Flood Narrative
A recent study has found that the destruction of plants preceded the destruction of many forms of animal life in the rock record.1 This is exactly...

NEWS
No Evidence T. rex Hatchlings Had Feathers
The recent discovery of a tiny tyrannosaur jaw bone fragment and a claw has some scientists again pushing dinosaurs as birds.1 But is there...

NEWS
Inside March 2021 Acts & Facts
Why does ICR uphold the clarity of Scripture? How do we know that canyons were formed by the Genesis Flood? How do fossilized fish confirm biblical...

DAYS OF PRAISE DEVOTIONALS
Spring 2021
...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Human Hands
You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with ICR’s special Creation Kids learning...

ACTS & FACTS
Dross and Dilution
The first of seven great signs of Jesus’ deity recorded in John’s gospel is the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11). By the time Jesus...

APOLOGETICS
Do the Unpersuaded Have Enough Proof?
At a local Bible conference, a respected seminary professor unintentionally contradicted the apostle Paul. During the Q&A session, he opined that...

ACTS & FACTS
Gunnison's Black Canyon: The Flood Solves Mysterious Missing...
Brian Thomas, Ph.D., and Tim Clarey, Ph.D. The Gunnison River winds westward from the Colorado Rocky Mountains through dry and dramatic landscapes....

ACTS & FACTS
Do We See Complex Design in Mosquito Eggs?
Mosquitoes hatch from tiny eggs and spend a few days filter-feeding on things like bacteria, pollen, and algae. They molt three times as they grow,...

ACTS & FACTS
A Texas-Size Spider Mystery
The delightfully creepy spider belongs to a class called Arachnida—which is distinct from the “bug” class Insecta. Not surprisingly,...