by David Talbott

from Thunderbolts Website



Dec 28, 2004


Credit: Cassini Imaging Team/SSL/JPL/ESA/NASA


Already the Cassini probe of Saturn’s realm has returned startling details about the gas giant and it largest moon Titan. These are not the worlds that NASA scientists expected.

On October 15, 1997, NASA launched the Cassini spacecraft toward the planet Saturn, perhaps the most enchanting body in the solar system. Almost seven years later, on July 1, 2004, the spacecraft entered an orbit around the gas giant.

Scientists had expressed hope that the 3.7 billion dollar Cassini spacecraft would solve longstanding mysteries. But NASA spokesmen had expressed similar hopes for the Galileo mission to Jupiter several years earlier, and if that experience is any indication of what to expect, surprising new mysteries will arise as old mysteries deepen in Cassini’s extended visit to Saturn.

The mysteries have accumulated for a reason. A large community of astronomers, astrophysicists and planetary geologists still work under the spell of traditional theoretical models, formulated prior to the discovery of the electric force in the heavens. These theorists draw upon traditional “gravity-only” models when they speculate on how stars and planets are formed. But while these models can get our probes to their destination, they have neither predicted nor explained the findings. Rather, from the moment of arrival, our space probes have recorded the unexpected.

A new cosmology, based on the work of leading plasma scientists in the twentieth century, offers a different view of the universe, including our own little enclave in the Milky Way. In this view, it is electricity that dominates the formative history of galaxies, stars, and planets.

In the “electric universe”, stars can be created within a dusty plasma by the well-studied electromagnetic “pinch effect”, a characteristic feature of cosmic electric discharges. Stars shine thereafter as electric glow discharges. Electrical star formation may also involve catastrophic instabilities, including fissioning, when a part of the star’s core may be expelled, giving birth to a binary or multiple star partner or a close-orbiting gas giant planet. Gas giants may later repeat the process on a smaller scale, expelling core material at intervals to form rings and satellites. According to this model, satellites that escape the parent to orbit the primary star become the rocky planets. Smaller debris from the electrical transactions become asteroids, comets, and meteoroids.

Obviously this electrical model is very different from the present gravitational models. It has biological and evolutionary overtones. Planets are born at intervals, and adjustments must be made for the new arrivals. Some leave home and others remain. The ages and histories of the family members will all be different. Astronomers who are bound by conventional assumptions expected to find a simple gradation in the properties of planets and moons—all in relation to distance from the center of gravity. Nothing remotely answering to that prediction was ever discovered.

Proponents of the electric universe are attentive to historical and forensic evidence. They have reconstructed a story of stupendous electrical events in the sky of our ancestors. By following the evidence wherever it might lead, they concluded that the solar system itself was unstable in earlier times. Planets once followed much different paths than they do today, giving rise to violent electrical arcing between planets and moons.

According to the authors of this reconstruction, the catastrophic transition to the present order of the solar system was witnessed by the sky-worshippers of antiquity. From this new vantage point, it is possible not only to hear the messages of ancient witnesses clearly, but also to compare these messages with plasma laboratory experiments and with new data from space. A convergence of evidence enables the cosmic electricians to predict the direction of discovery, including many surprises to conventional theorists as Cassini sends its data back to earth.

Like the Sun, Saturn radiates X-rays strongly from near its equator, though X-rays of such intensity were not expected from Saturn. Saturn’s X-ray spectrum is like the Sun’s, and this fact led scientists to suggest, improbably, that the X-rays from the Sun were being reflected by Saturn’s atmosphere. (Why, then, doesn’t Jupiter reflect X-rays equatorially? Its X-rays come from polar auroral discharges, not from a “reflection”). The hasty “explanation” requires that Saturn reflect X-rays 50-times more efficiently than the Moon!

By comparing historical evidence with data on recently discovered unusually-low-luminosity stars, Wallace Thornhill has suggested that Saturn was formerly an independent brown dwarf star. He predicts that Saturn will continue to perplex astronomers with stellar characteristics. Saturn’s X-rays are concentrated, like the Sun’s, at low latitudes. Voyager 2 also found an immense, hot doughnut of plasma encircling Saturn
(click image left) that is believed to be the hottest place in the solar system, 300 times hotter than the solar corona!  Saturn’s atmosphere appears to rotate faster at the equator than at high latitudes – just like the Sun’s. More similarities will emerge, Thornhill predicts.

In January, Cassini is due to relay information from the Huygens probe as it descends to the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Under the electric hypothesis Titan was likely born by electrical expulsion from the proto-Saturnian brown dwarf. So it should be found to have features in common with Venus, the planet that shows the most abundant signs of geologically recent ejection. Already it is known that Titan has the heaviest atmosphere after its sister, Venus.

Astronomers observe a continuous loss of methane from Titan's atmosphere. Assuming a conventionally long geologic history of the planets, they’ve also supposed that Titan’s atmosphere is in equilibrium. So they thought that a global ocean of methane would be found, continually replenishing the observed losses. The electric view postulates no such ocean, just remnant methane from recent ejection events in Saturn’s domain.

Cosmic discharges are a copious source of neutrons and are responsible for the production of heavy isotopes and short-lived radioisotopes (elements altered by a change in the number of neutrons in their nucleus). Thus, the abundance of the heavy isotope, nitrogen-15, in Titan’s atmosphere is probably due to electric discharge effects. Not surprisingly, Titan’s atmosphere reveals a whiff of the Venusian atmosphere, with carbon dioxide and nitrogen as major constituents. Nor should we be surprised that the same elements appear in Mars’ thin atmosphere too.

Like Venus, surface temperatures are globally uniform on Titan within a few degrees, a good indicator of recent electrical heating. Conventional astronomers, who posit a “greenhouse effect” to explain Venus’s temperature, now do the same for Titan. But the electric hypothesis challenges the entire idea of a Venus “greenhouse,” attributing the high temperatures to that planet’s recent electrical origin. The same explanation likely applies to Titan. Like Venus, Titan seems not to have a magnetic field and yet it has a distinct magnetotail (also like Venus). Titan’s electrical plasma interactions may therefore be compared to those of Venus. Indeed, Titan shines on the dayside in ultraviolet light too brightly to be explained by excitation from solar radiation.

Titan’s surface features should also be compared to those of Venus. Scientists tell us that Titan seems to have been “resurfaced” because there is no evidence of the expected primordial cratering. The same thing was said about Venus! Also a radar return from Titan was “of a type that we would expect to get back from Venus.” In the electrical hypothesis, the similarity would be expected--a heavy atmosphere tends to cause filamentation of cosmic electrical scars instead of large craters. Such scars encircle Venus’s equator in the form of rilles and spider-web-like formations called “arachnoids”.

We may expect similar features on Titan. In the first close-up image of Titan’s surface by Cassini a “Venusian-type” dome was tentatively identified. We can also expect many flat-bottomed valleys bordered by steep cliffs with scalloped edges—a common signature of high-energy surface machining by electricity. And while planetary scientists puzzle over the absence of craters, we predict that, as higher resolution images of the surface are returned, many regions will reveal channels formed of overlapping smaller craters and parallel grooves that can be expected of discharge streamers raking across the surface.

Then there is the peculiarity of Saturn's third largest moon, Iapetus. It sports a hemispheric difference as puzzling as that of Mars. Its leading face in its orbit is “as dark as a freshly-tarred street, and the trailing hemisphere and poles almost as bright as snow.” It shows an abundance of craters typical of electric discharge, implying exchanges of cosmic thunderbolts with another body. The dark, reddish deposit on the leading face will probably be found to have components similar to the soils of Mars or Venus.