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 Left: Jupiter’s moon Europa. Right: Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
Original images credit: NASA/JPL

Feb 25
, 2008
Impending Enceladus Encounter

Cassini is about to make one of the closest approaches by a space vehicle to any moon in the Solar System. What are the expectations?

On March 12, 2008, the Cassini space probe will fly over the south pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus at a distance of 30 kilometers from the surface, whereupon it will accelerate and move up to a distance of 120 kilometers. Its primary mission is to analyze the plumes of vapor that rise from so-called “tiger stripe” cracks that dominate the southern hemisphere, feeding a constant stream of ions into the plasmasphere of its giant parent.

In a June 13, 2007 European Space Agency release it was announced that two other moons of Saturn, Tethys and Dione, are “flinging great streams of particles into space.” The Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) made the discovery when data from Saturn revealed that a torus of charged particles surrounds the planet, trapped within its magnetic field. So far, three moons have demonstrated connections with a vast electric field that links them to Saturn. We predict that other moons within the Saturnian system will reveal similar galvanic coupling as more data is received.

When the Cassini spacecraft began its investigation of Saturn’s moons, NASA scientists noticed that Saturn's magnetic field bends around Enceladus. But their misunderstanding of plasma behavior led them to insist that the effect is mechanical and not electrical, since electric currents in space "don't do anything."

An abstract found in the prestigious journal Nature confirms the prevailing attitude:

“…we show that the most likely explanation for the heat and vapour production is shear heating by tidally driven lateral (strike-slip) fault motion with displacement of 0.5 m over a tidal period. Vapour produced by this heating may escape as plumes through cracks reopened by the tidal stresses. The ice shell thickness needed to produce the observed heat flux is at least 5 km. The tidal displacements required imply a Love number of h2 > 0.01, suggesting that the ice shell is decoupled from the silicate interior by a subsurface ocean.”

A similar interpretation of the “geysers” can be found in the February 12, 2008 issue of Astronomy Magazine where JPL scientists theorize that “pinball physics” is the best way to explain how water and ice erupt from Saturn’s sixth largest moon. As the article states: “Shooting up through crooked cracks in the ice, the particles ricochet off the walls, losing speed, while the water vapor moves unimpeded up the crevasse. The vapor reboosts the frozen particles as they pinball off the walls, carrying them upward.”

So it is internally generated heat from “tidal friction” and “ricocheting” molecules of water producing temperatures in excess of 275 Kelvin that account for the plumes of Enceladus.

From the perspective of an Electric Universe, no explanation will be sufficient until it is acknowledged that the polar hot spots on Enceladus are due to a continuous flow of electric current into the moon. Hot poles are found in places where no conventional astrophysicist ever expected to find them: Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune all possess anomalous heat signatures emanating from their vertices when, according to conventional understanding, they should be among the coldest places in the Solar System.

In a previous Thunderbolts Picture of the Day we referred to a statement by EU theorist and author Wal Thornhill: “…if NASA will look they will find that the jets [vapor plumes] move across the surface. And in their motion across the surface, the electric arcs that produce the jets are creating the observed channels as they excavate material from the surface and accelerate it into space.”

With these facts in mind, what can Cassini expect to encounter when it flies through the hypothermic effluvium escaping from the moon? An ice fragment no larger than a grain of salt could injure the spacecraft if it impacted a super-cooled detector or a vital connection with its power source. Using the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS), the NASA team interpreted the amount of starlight absorbed by the vapor plumes in the area of greatest density and determined that they are a thousand times less dense than those that could cause damage, so there should be no concerns.

Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since July 1, 2004. As it made its way into the electrically active environment of the monstrous gas giant it slowly equalized its charge potential with that of Saturn and its surroundings. It can be expected that it is now at equilibrium with the ionized potential of the system so there should be no arcing between the spacecraft and Enceladus as it passes through the rarified vapor that is being drawn upward from the moon’s fractured pole. There is the remote possibility that Cassini will make contact with a Birkeland current filament that is excavating material out of the moon, but the coincidence would be surprising.

For all intents and purposes, there will be no effect on Cassini when it encounters Enceladus at its closest approach.

“The greatest achievements of the human mind are generally received with distrust.”
--- Arthur Schopenhauer

By Stephen Smith

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The Electric Sky and The Electric Universe available now!


Authors David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill introduce the reader to an age of planetary instability and earthshaking electrical events in ancient times. If their hypothesis is correct, it could not fail to alter many paths of scientific investigation.

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Professor of engineering Donald Scott systematically unravels the myths of the "Big Bang" cosmology, and he does so without resorting to black holes, dark matter, dark energy, neutron stars, magnetic "reconnection", or any other fictions needed to prop up a failed theory.

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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
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