from Thuntherbolts Website


Jan 17, 2005


Credit: ESA/NASA/Univ. of Arizona


On January 14 the Huygens probe descended onto the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan, provoking exclamations of wonder and surprise. The composite photograph above was produced from some of the first images returned by the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe during its successful descent and landing on Titan. It shows a full 360-degree view around Huygens. The left-hand side, behind Huygens, shows a boundary between light and dark areas of unknown composition, and the white streaks near the boundary have been tentatively identified as “fog.” These images were taken from an altitude of about 8 kilometers (about 5 miles) with a resolution of about 20 meters (about 65 feet) per pixel.

The Huygens probe will provide several definitive tests for a new and widely divergent model of the nature and history of Saturn’s realm. The new model was proposed by Australian physicist Wallace Thornhill, who has led the way in applying principles of the Electric Universe to planetary history. He has registered several predictions as to what Cassini/Huygens will find, including unexpected parallels with the planet Venus. We noted the issue in our Picture of the Day for December 28, 2004:

“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 becomes asteroids, comets, and meteoroids”.

In June 2004, as Cassini entered the Saturnian system, Thornhill wrote:

“We should expect to see family traits amongst the members of the Saturnian family – including the departed Earth, Mars and Venus.”

See “Titan puzzles scientists”.

Emily Lakdawalla, the Science and Technology Coordinator of The Planetary Society, reported events from ESA’s Huygens mission headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. She wrote on Jan 15,

“I overheard [Marty] Tomasko [the Principal Investigator for the Descent Imager Spectral Radiometer] being interviewed by the BBC ... and he remarked about how Earth-like the images seemed. That really struck me, because there are two places in the solar system whose surfaces we can’t see, because they are shrouded by clouds, Venus and Titan. Venus is always called our sister planet because of its similar size and distance from the Sun, but it’s a fiery hell of volcanoes and desiccated plains with sulfuric acid clouds choking a thick carbon dioxide atmosphere. As for Titan--with Cassini’s first views it seemed as though we were going to see the opposite extreme, a frigid hell, of ice volcanoes and choking methane clouds. Instead, we’re seeing such an Earth-like place, with plateaus, basins, river channels and deltas. It seems so much more benign than it did before, possibly even beautiful by Earth standards.” Score 1 for Thornhill.

Thornhill continued,

Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury, seems to be a close sibling of Venus, probably born from Saturn at about the same time.” And “Planet-girdling filamentary scars on Venus are due to equatorial cosmic discharges through a thick atmosphere.”

Since Titan has the densest atmosphere of any terrestrial planet after Venus, a critical test was to find long filamentary channels on Titan that could be identified as surface lightning scars. Lakdawalla reported,

Marty Tomasko remarked that the patterns of squiggly dark lines on a bright surface looked like ’drainage channels’ to him.... Amazing, absolutely amazing; we still don’t know if there are liquids on Titan but I haven’t yet heard another explanation for ’dendritic’ [or root-like] channels seen from up high and rounded rocks seen from near the surface. Who would have expected this? Still, we could be seeing something like on Mars, where there is abundant evidence for past liquids active on the surface, but no evidence for present liquids. Time will tell.”

The Electric Universe model alone expected and provided an explanation for dendritic channels on Titan like those seen on the desert planet Mars. Score 2 for Thornhill.

The Electric Universe scorecard will be examined more closely this week.