NASA’s Misdirection With New Discovery In Enceladus

Science Daily reports the Cassini spacecraft has found salt on Saturn’s  outermost ring . The source which supplies the material to this ring is Enceladus.

“Cassini discovered the water-ice jets in 2005 on Enceladus. These jets expel tiny ice grains and vapor, some of which escape the moon’s gravity and form Saturn’s outermost ring. Cassini’s cosmic dust analyzer has examined the composition of those grains and found salt within them.”

“We believe that the salty minerals deep inside Enceladus washed out from rock at the bottom of a liquid layer,” said Frank Postberg, Cassini scientist for the cosmic dust analyzer at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany. Postberg is lead author of a study that appears in the June 25 issue of the journal Nature.”

John Spencer, Cassini scientist at Southwest Research Institute states in Nature“The chemistry of the plumes is of intense interest not only because it provides a unique opportunity to sample the interior of an icy moon directly, but also because the interior of this particular moon provides a potential habitat for extraterrestrial life.”

Searching for so-called alien life forms has been used quite often to get people excited over space exploration. The sad part of this sale, it’s a misdirection.

Let me explain, the journal Astrobiology Vol 2. No. 2 (2002) conducted an experiment, in order to find out the reaction of  RNA and membranes with salt. What they found was, the sea salt destroys fatty-acid membranes and prevents RNA from polymerizing, even at lower concentrations which are seven times weaker than in today’s oceans.

They concluded that the origin of life in the oceans would not be possible, and that a very protected environment of fresh water would have been necessary for emergent life to evolve far enough to protect itself from the damaging effects of sea salt.

Then in Astrobiology Magazine 2007, it states…

“The amount of salts in the ocean also could be stressful for life.  [Kevin] Hand [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] says the Galileo magnetometer results indicate Europa’s ocean could be nearly saturated in either sodium chloride or magnesium sulfate.”

“If you’ve got a salt-saturated ocean, that doesn’t bode well for the origin of life,” says Hand.  “Some of the processes that lead toward the generation of polymers or the stringing together of genetic base pairs are inhibited by high salt concentrations.  That said, there are terrestrial halophiles, salt-loving microbes, that could survive in the ocean we propose.”

A couple of years later, you got the likes of the BBC and a whole host of other media outlets joining in on the misdirection in trying to sell the public that salt water is one of the key components present for the origin of life.

But not all media outlets were fooled by such nonsense. An unlikely source LiveScience which is known for attacking creationism while defending evolution even said…

“That might sell papers and generate web clicks, but it’s overstated. What NASA found was strong evidence for a salty ocean under ice on the diminutive moon Enceladus. No signs of life were found, and in fact even the ocean needs to be confirmed, scientists said.”

I hardly agree with LiveScience, but they are right about the hype, it’s about ratings, in NASA’s case, it’s about getting people exciting over the prospect of finding alien life because it makes their projects easier to fund. While I really love space exploration and hope we do a lot more of it as it declares the glories of God, we certainly don’t need this type of fraud going on like Cassini scientist John Spencer is conducting in the science community.

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4 thoughts on “NASA’s Misdirection With New Discovery In Enceladus

  1. ‘Fraud’ is a very big word, Michael.
    You are entitled to your opinion that he might be wrong, but claiming ‘fraud’ takes this to another level.

    I get the impression that your tone is hardening a bit over the last few months. That is a pity.

  2. Fraud? Your misrepresentations and quote-mining of valid research are much more likely to merit such a term.

  3. I find it interesting that you latch on to ONE study that shows the difficulty of studying origin-of-life scenarios, and then use that to discount no less than THREE that discuss even the remote possibility of life arising off-planet.

    You need to pick a team and run with it: Either you listen to what the majority of science says, understand the scientific process, and use it to come to your conclusions, or you just stop using science all together to bolster your claims. Picking and choosing like this is incredibly intellectually dishonest.

    Now as for “ratings,” NASA is just like any other group that relies upon PUBLIC funding: If it can’t get people excited about what it does, especially congresspeople, then it’s not going to get any money. And whether YOU get excited about it or not, the majority of the public DOES get excited about astrobiology. Besides, there are many more people who believe that UFOs are aliens than believe in your brand of Creationism. Not trying to use an argument ad populum, but just making the point that people DO get excited about astrobiology and the prospects of life off of our planet.

  4. Oh, also, forgot to mention that MOST press releases are written by PR people and NOT by the actual scientists. As a consequence, press releases are generally known to over-state and -hype new research’s implications in ways the original scientist(s) never would have done. But that is FAR from “fraud.”

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