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astronomy Creation/evolution Physics

Genesis mission to the sun: Did it confirm the nebular theory of formation of the solar system?

The Genesis spacecraft mission, launched in August 2001 by NASA, was designed to observe the solar wind, particles coming from the sun, entrap a sample of those particles on substrates and safely return them to Earth. The spacecraft travelled to a point about 1.5 million kilometers (or about 1 million miles) from Earth called Lagrange point, L1, where the gravitational force of the earth is matched by that of the sun. At this location the Genesis spacecraft was well outside of Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic environment, allowing it to collect a ‘pristine’ sample of the solar wind. Genesis’ overall flight path resembled a series of loops (Fig. 1): first it circled five times around L1, called Halo orbit, where it remained for 850 days, then it moved back for a short loop around the opposite Lagrange point, L2, in order to position the spacecraft for a daylight return to Earth.

Figure 1: Genesis spacecraft mission trajectory. Credit: NASA/JPL

On board the spacecraft, ions from the solar-wind impacted the collectors at speeds over 200 km/sec and buried themselves in specially-selected materials. These samples were sealed in enclosures for their safe return to Earth in a sample-return capsule (SRC). Then during the return-to-Earth stage something went horribly wrong. On NASA’s Genesis Search for Origins website it is described as follows.1

On 8 September 2004 the SRC entered Earth’s atmosphere as planned, but its gravity switches were oriented incorrectly as the result of a design error and the parachute system failed to deploy. The high-speed wreck compromised the SRC and shattered many of the Genesis collectors.

The samples were scattered and shattered. But all was not lost it seemed.

However, the Genesis Preliminary Examination Team was able to show that, because the solar-wind ions were buried beneath the surface of the collectors, it is possible to detect and quantify elements in the solar-wind.1

Composition of original solar nebula

Thus in March 2005, Johnson Space Center curatorial staff started allocating solar-wind collectors to the international scientific community to see what could be determined from those samples. The purpose was to glean information on the composition of the solar wind, and hence to determine the chemical and isotopic composition of the original solar nebula which it is alleged formed our solar system. See Fig. 2.

Categories
astronomy Creation/evolution Physics

Planetary system formation: exposing naturalistic storytelling

Attempts to explain how stars form naturalistically have encountered significant challenges because the known laws of physics indicate it is virtually impossible.1  There is a remote possibility for star formation via the mechanism of a nearby supernova, but dark matter is generally invoked as the ‘unknown god’, a ‘god of the gaps’ to make it work, because such events are extremely unlikely.Without this ‘unknown god’ in their uncreated universe, the formation of the star at the centre of a planetary nebula is essentially impossible. It also follows that planet formation has a similar problem. How do planets form in a nebula of gas and dust, which according to the known laws of physics cannot condense a star at its centre?

More importantly, how do you get a solar system with planets in habitable zones?  Radiation from the newly born star would drive out any excess gas and dust from the path of the planets via photo-evaporation and stellar winds, making the formation of planets very unlikely. The planets allegedly condense via the core accretion model resulting in (in some cases) a habitable planet in the habitable zone, at the right distance from the parent star where water can exist in its liquid state.3 Then water is assumed to condense on the surface of that new planet, but by what mechanism?  Ultimately this is a question about life elsewhere in the Universe. But I digress.

By product of star formation

solar sytem formation
Figure 1: Illustration of the star formation story. CREDIT: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

Standard astrophysical dogma is that planets form around stars as a natural by-product of the star formation process.4 But there are several problems.

For the initial molecular cloud to collapse, and eventually form a star, the cloud must eliminate any magnetic fields (due to unpaired charges) that oppose the collapse. The alleged process, which removes any magnetic field induced pressure from molecular clouds, entails the ions that carry the magnetic fields slowly diffusing out of the cloud, taking the magnetic fields with them.5

But these same magnetic fields are invoked to shuttle the angular momentum from the newly forming star, at the centre of the cloud, outward into the disk region of the solar nebula, to overcome another unsolved problem. This is the angular momentum problem, where the putative central star should have 99% of the angular momentum of the collapsing cloud, but in real observed solar systems like our own, 99% of the angular momentum resides in the planets, hence in the disk of material around the central star. Their suggested naturalistic solution to this problem is just-so storytelling. See below.

Categories
Age of the Earth Belief in God Creation/evolution History Physics Roman Catholic church Science

Development of an “old” universe in science

Notes of a lecture on the historical philosophical development of the notion that the universe is very old. The lecture was given August 1st 2015. See Age and Reason Seminar Adelaide for details.


Bishop James Ussher was the Irish Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland. He excelled in education, was fluent in Arabic and Hebrew. In 1654, after an exhaustive investigation, he published his date for the Creation of the Universe – 4004 B.C..When Ussher published this Creation date it was believed. There was nothing remarkable about that. If you add up the genealogies in the Bible, and with a bit of historical knowledge, you can easily get a time since the beginning of the world of around 6000 years. It was believed that God created the world as He said in Scripture about 4000 years before Christ. For roughly 18 centuries of the Christian era such a time period was widely believed.

In the 17th century Sir Francis Bacon developed the ideas of the modern scientific method – scientific empiricism—where one developed a thesis and did experiments to test it. Bacon has been called the ‘father of the scientific method.’

Middle ages onAnd it was from the Middle Ages science was nurtured in the Christian universities of Europe and flourished after that, from the Reformation on, underpinned by the rich Christian worldview that held that the Universe was created by a rational trustworthy God, and the unchanging laws of nature are His creation.

Categories
Age of the Earth astronomy Physics

The ‘waters above’

The disks of gas, dust and debris observed with modern infrared and millimetre-wave instruments in nearby star systems are considered to act as locators to large colliding bodies. These observations are problematic for the evolutionary nebula theory of the formation of planetary systems, but can be easily interpreted from a biblical creationist worldview. By that I mean they provide evidence consistent with a Young Solar System creation scenario as described in Genesis 1.

My proposal is that these cratering bodies are analogues for the ‘waters above’, mentioned in the initial creation of the world (Genesis 1:7), which in part were used by God during the Curse and the Flood.  Under this hypothesis, the ‘waters above’ would represent all the bodies, large and small, that lay beyond Neptune in our solar system, including all the cometary material, mostly made of water ice. 

“Artist’s Impression of a Kuiper Belt Object” by NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)