Friday, 29 August 2008
Mercury’s Magnetic Field Supports Young Age for the Solar System
Mercury. Image: NASA
In 1975 NASA’s Mariner 10 spacecraft flew past Mercury at a distance of 327 km (203 miles). It carried equipment that measured the planet’s magnetic field. Nine years later, physicist Russell D. Humphreys predicted that by 1990 Mercury’s magnetic field should be 1.8 per cent weaker than in 1975.
No spacecraft was sent to Mercury in 1990. Now NASA’s Messenger space probe flew past the solar system’s innermost planet. Preliminary data on the magnetic field were published in July in Science. The results indicate that Humphreys was right – Mercury’s magnetic field is indeed considerably weaker than it was in 1975, by roughly 4 per cent.
Humphrey’s based his calculations on the biblical estimation of the solar system’s age (ca. 6000 years). “My predicted four percent decrease in only 33 years would be very hard for evolutionary theories of planetary magnetic fields to explain”, writes Dr. Humphreys on the Creation Ministries International webpage.
“When NASA’s space program began many decades ago, nobody expected it to vindicate Scripture so strongly, ” Humphreys concludes.
Other evidence also point to a young solar system. For instance, the methanological cycle on Saturn’s moon Titan is relatively young. The rain on Titan is liquid methane. Recently researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland examined the images sent by the Huygens space probe. They found out that there is much less tholin, a substance made up of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, on Titan’s surface than predicted by a model in which the solar system’s age is estimated to be billions of years.
Another fascinating fact that speaks for a young solar system is the existence of short-term comets. Every time a comet passes the sun, it loses some of its mass and thus no short-term comet could last over 100, 000 years. Astronomers have speculated that a hypothetical stretch of space called the Oort Cloud that extends up to three light years from the sun houses millions of frozen comets. Every now and then these cold comets change to a shorter orbit that takes them closer to the sun. However, there is no observational evidence for the existence of this cloud. In other words, the Oort Cloud was invented because belief in an old solar system required it.
The weakening of Mercury’s magnetic field adds to this fascinating list of evidence for a young solar system.
Anderson, Brian.J. et al. 2008 The structure of Mercury’s magnetic field from MESSENGER’s first flyby, Science 341:82–85, 4 July 2008.
Ball, Philip. 2008. Titanic climate change in store. Nature News 6 February 2008. http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080206/full/news.2008.553.html
Humphreys, Russell D. 2007. Mercury’s Magnetic Field Is Young.
Sarfati, Jonathan. 2003. Comets: Portents of Doom or Indicators of Youth? Creation 25:3, 36-40, June 2003. http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/141.