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 Credit: NASA/JPL

Aug 17, 2007
Chaotic Callisto

Another of Jupiter's moons provides evidence for planetary electric discharge events.

Just as the Cassini mission's images and data analysis provided substantial evidence for the electric universe hypothesis, Galileo performed the same service in the exploration of Jupiter. Launched October 18, 1989, Galileo had been delayed for several years while NASA underwent a top to bottom housecleaning following the Challenger space shuttle explosion. On September 21, 2003, the spacecraft was deliberately sent into the cloud tops of Jupiter, where it is was incinerated. Because of the discovery on Europa of a possible water ocean underneath the ice, NASA did not want Galileo to randomly rove around the system and possibly collide with Europa after its fuel supply was exhausted. In order to protect the Europan ecology, NASA decided to destroy it.

The four Galilean moons - the ones originally discovered by the famed Italian astronomer - are the largest and have been imaged more often by more instruments than any others. As a member of the Jovian system, Callisto appears to bear the marks of many huge electrical jolts. Of course, the incredible number of craters on this moon could be considered anomalous and their shape and arrangement seem to support that idea, but there are many other qualities of this beaten body that are difficult to explain.

The gigantic ring of ridges that dominates the trailing hemisphere of Callisto marks out a circle some 1056 kilometers in diameter. Known as the Asgard Multi-Ring Structure, it consists of concentric rings that outline a bright central feature. A large, domed crater named Doh in the center of the bright plain is unusual. Rather than having a depression in the center of the crater, 50 kilometer-wide Doh contains a huge mound-shape, cut through with deep channels. More then anything else, this feature is reminiscent of the large fulgamites, similar to Olympus Mons, that have been discussed in past Thunderbolts Picture of the Day articles.

The Valhalla Basin is another point to consider in the electric theory of Callisto's topography, as well as the enormous crater in the southern hemisphere. At 200 kilometers in diameter, its rays extend outward hundreds of kilometers across the surface very much like the lunar crater, Tycho. As has been noted several times in past Pictures of the Day, the morphology of such rays can be traced to electrical effects.

There is another crater that should also be listed in this compilation of anomalies on Callisto, and that is Har. The Har crater is a 50-kilometer-wide double ring with another 20-kilometer-wide crater centered on its rim. This formation has been tentatively identified with others as the scar of an electric arc discharge because it has a central mound with parallel striations running through it beyond the far rim. The multiple smaller craters are often tear-drop shaped and occur in long chains, another characteristic of cathode discharges to an oppositely charged surface.

Callisto's surface is more knobby than the other moons in the solar system. There are areas of hundreds of square kilometers exhibiting few craters but vast fields of rounded spires sticking out of the surface. In other areas, the spires are tilted and angular, as if they are the tops of material that has been fused into the faceted shapes. Such formations can be found in some areas of the African desert, as well as on Mars. If similar structures are found on dry and frozen planets with virtually no atmosphere, but also on our habitable planet, where water and oxygen are plentiful, what creates these features in such dissimilar environments? The answer seems to be electric discharge.

By Stephen Smith

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The Electric Sky and The Electric Universe available now!


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In language designed for scientists and non-scientists alike, authors Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott show that even the greatest surprises of the space age are predictable patterns in an electric universe.

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David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Steve Smith, Mel Acheson
  CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Michael Armstrong, Dwardu Cardona,
Ev Cochrane, C.J. Ransom, Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman
  WEBMASTER: Brian Talbott

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