An Electrifying Assembly

The Galilean moons trace their presence in this ultraviolet image of Jupiter’s north polar aurora.


May 24, 2018

Jupiter’s moons exhibit electrical activity.

On October 18, 1989 NASA launched the Galileo Jupiter orbiter (the pre-cursor to the current Juno mission) onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, as part of the STS-34 mission. After gravitational assistance from flybys of Venus and Earth, Galileo arrived at Jupiter on December 7, 1995 becoming the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter.

Data returned by Galileo continues to be investigated, even after more than 20 years. Images of Jupiter’s moons, in particular, reveal structures that do not readily conform to conventional ideas. For example, why does Ganymede possess a magnetic field? Why is Callisto pock-marked with thousands of craters? Why does Europa appear to be covered with water ice? Since all of Jupiter’s moons vary in size, composition, and appearance, it is difficult to think of them as part of a family, although a lack of common characteristics can be misleading. Powerful electromagnetic connections with Jupiter indicate that they share similar experiences and which might reveal something about their parturition.

Eight different science instruments have studied Jupiter’s environment, including its many moons. beginning with Pioneer 10 in 1973, and then the New Horizons spacecraft on its way to Pluto in 2009. Out of its 69 known moons, the four Galilean moons (named after Galileo Galilei, who, along with Simon Marius, discovered them in 1610) are the most well-known.

Ganymede is possibly the most bizarre of the four, with a somewhat chaotic mix of geographical features. Its mean equatorial diameter of 5262 kilometers makes Ganymede the largest moon orbiting any planet, and is the fourth largest rocky object after the planet Mars.

Ganymede is also distinguished by an intrinsic magnetic field. In December 1995 Galileo detected an electromagnetic field, supposedly created by a “dynamo” in the same way that the Earth’s core is said to generate its field. However, a major caveat is that planetary scientists think Ganymede’s core is too hot for permanent magnetism. According to conventional astrogeology, its core should have cooled-off and solidified billions of years ago.

NASA’s “explanation” is highly speculative: Ganymede might have been closer to Jupiter at one time, so it was compressed and stretched by Jupiter’s gravity. The gravitational “kneading” kept its core liquid far longer than if it always occupied its present orbit. This begs the question, since a force that moved an object bigger than Mercury into a new orbit is a greater mystery.

The moon Callisto is scarred by what Electric Universe advocates believe derives from electric discharges. A gigantic ring of ridges 1056 kilometers in diameter encompasses nearly its entire trailing hemisphere. The Asgard Multi-ring Structure outlines a bright central feature.

50-kilometer-wide Doh crater in the center of a bright plain is also unusual. Rather than a depressed central region, there is a mound-shape with deep channels, a feature reminiscent of Olympus Mons on Mars.

Valhalla Basin also points to an electric theory of Callisto’s topography, along with an enormous 200-kilometer-wide crater in the southern hemisphere. The crater’s “rays” fan-out for hundreds of kilometers, just like those that extend from the lunar crater, Tycho. As discussed in a previous Picture of the Day, the morphology of such rays can be traced to electrical effects.

Detailed images of another moon verify electric discharge predictions. There is a “volcanic” plume extending 290 kilometers above the surface of Io. The Tvashtar plume is similar to one produced by the Pele caldera. Ignoring electric charge flow between Jupiter and Io means that the filamentary plumes will never be adequately explained. New Horizons returned stunning images of aurorae surrounding Io, revealing its electrical connection with Jupiter.

The electric circuits on Io led plasma physicist Anthony Peratt to write:

“The apparent filamentary penumbra on Io may be the first direct verification of the plasma gun mechanism at work in the solar system.”

When Voyager 2 sent back the first images of Europa, scientists were surprised by the amount of water ice covering its surface. An absence of craters was another surprise, since Jupiter should have pulled many objects into collision with Europa. Instead of craters, a network of channels dominates the moon, leading investigators to speculate about “fractures”. “Cracking” continues to be the official interpretation, even though high resolution images undermine the idea.

The larger channels are smooth, with a constant width extending for more than a thousand kilometers; not surprising from an electrical viewpoint. Electric discharges flowing across a surface will possess associated magnetic fields that “pinch” them into filaments, drawing concurrent filaments into parallel alignment.

There are chaotic regions on Europa, as well, with complexes of parallel grooves that give no indication that they are “ice rafts” caused by fracturing. Breaking ice does not produce extensive parallel grooves and levees. Europan rilles are overlying and intersecting v-shaped troughs, not cracks in the ice.

Dark centers in strings of small craters are indicative of a narrow discharge channel exploding beneath the surface, throwing material onto the sides of the trenches. Lines of dark material mark-out what was acted on by the discharge—oxygen atoms transmuted into atoms of sulfur by electric force. Lighter material is ice that was above the discharge channel, blown out to the sides.

The looping rilles on Europa are not analogous to ice cracks on Earth. When ice breaks, it is chaotic and affected by variations in thickness and composition. Yet, repetitive patterns are observed on Europa, especially in the cycloidal “flexi“. Swirls, swaths, and loops covering the moon can be duplicated in the laboratory using plasma discharge equipment. It seems evident, though, that whatever happened in the past is not happening today (thus the long time scales required by standard theories).

Electric Universe advocates assert that Jupiter moves within the Sun’s plasmasphere and interacts with the Sun’s electric field. Planets and moons in the Solar System are charged bodies, they are not isolated in “empty” space. Since Ganymede, Europa, Io, and Callisto all move within the plasmasphere of Jupiter, it is expected that they are electrically connected.

Stephen Smith

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