Space Exploration Concerning Empiricism and Speculation

Are we exploring space only because of curiosity of discovering ingredients which one can speculate about life being present sometime in the distance past or speculating about its origin?

There is still controversy brewing over a dry or wet Martian planet. Data from last year indicates that many of the lakes or gullies were likely caused by volcanoes. But on September 27th, Curiosity Rover had taken a stunning picture of conglomerate and gravel which appear like  flowing surface water from the planet’s past. NASA quickly rushed to publish this amazing photo, because of its significance which lead Science Magazine to declare: “Bingo!” 

“Billions of years ago, enough water flowed down from the rim of Gale crater to carry gravel to the middle of the crater floor—where the Curiosity rover found and imaged it 3 weeks ago, the NASA mission’s team members reported in a press conference today.”

“The broken face of a 15-centimeter-thick layer of rock—perhaps tilted into view by a nearby small impact—shows off bits of rock worn into pebbly roundness as they tumbled down a nearby slope in a torrent of water. Later, the gravel became encased in water-deposited minerals. Other rovers have found evidence of salty ground water or evanescent puddles of brine.”

“And orbital imaging has shown that the nearby slope in Gale was surely a so-called alluvial fan; the cone-shaped feature formed when sediment-laden water spilled down the crater wall. But Curiosity’s discovery will let researchers infer a great deal more about this particular ancient water on Mars.”

“Unfortunately, gravel laid down in torrential flows is about the worst sort of deposit to search for traces of ancient life. As demonstrated on Earth, the organic remains of long-ago life are far better preserved in the muddy deposits of a quiescent lake bottom. “

So there you have it, one picture of the surface of Mars discovered by Curiosity convinced science magazine that there was water present supposedly billions of years ago. On the next day, Science Daily published an article saying Mars is drier than expected…

“Preliminary data from the Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory, presented at the European Planetary Science Conference on 28 September, indicate that the Gale Crater landing site might be drier than expected.”

“The prediction based on previous measurements using the Mars Odyssey orbiter was that the soil in Gale Crater would be around 6% water. But the preliminary results from Curiosity show only a fraction of this,” said Maxim Mokrousov (Russian Space Research Institute), the lead designer of the instrument.”

The problem with water on Mars is, the substance cannot exist on the surface at this present moment because of  the low atmospheric pressure, one hundredth that on Earth. Phys.org reports that the water wouldn’t last because of atomic-level erosion from the solar wind called sputtering…“In this process, atoms are knocked away from the atmosphere due to impacts from energetic particles” concluding that the planet was never wet or warm.  

In other space exploration news,  researchers have obtained enough data that discovers what happens during Titan’s year. They can now observe seasonal changes occurring on the moon. Researchers are finding these changing are having more of an impact on Titan than previously thought.

In  science daily

“Explains Dr Coustenis, “As with Earth, conditions on Titan change with its seasons. We can see differences in atmospheric temperatures, chemical composition and circulation patterns, especially at the poles. For example, hydrocarbon lakes form around the north polar region during winter due to colder temperatures and condensation.”

Interesting enough, The article mentioned the continuous ethane production from solar radiation but did not get into the time problem this creates. Over the course of 4.5 billion years, an accumulation of half a kilometer or more of liquid ethane was expected by scientists in a global ocean.  Even the Huygens probe was designed to float on that ocean which was falsified by direct observations. The lakes on Titan are appearing and disappearing  which can only mean that the lakes are shallow and the liquid hydrocarbons in them are moving around! This is hardly an indication of the moon being billions of years old, which is why the prediction of a global ocean consisting of ethane failed to meet expectations rather it confirms more of a youthful moon!

Another indication is the fact that Titan, the largest moon which contains the greatest gravitational attraction, has very few craters (three to five) after all that time. One has to ask whether it is credible that these processes have been going on for billions of years.

Creationists can still enjoy space exploration which has been a valuable tool in learning about our solar system confirming a Creator but one has to keep mind the difference of keep in mind the difference between between empiricism and speculation, between discovery and explanation!

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One thought on “Space Exploration Concerning Empiricism and Speculation

  1. Creationists can still enjoy space exploration ….

    Well, creationists can still enjoy all the pretty pictures returned by planetary probes.

    What they find hard to enjoy is the growing body of scientific knowledge about the history of the solar system and the universe.

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