As NASA’s New Horizons mission approaches the former-planet Pluto, I’ve started to rethink what they might find there. I remember reading as a child about how Pluto was made of ice and rock—a cold, dead world. Of course, scientists “know” this is what Pluto must be like, even though it is only a speck in the sky when viewed through our most powerful telescopes. No body so far from the sun could be anything but frozen, right?
This conclusion is natural if we accept the ruling cosmogony, which says that the solar system formed from a swirling cloud of gas over 4.5 billion years. The majority of scientists believe this right? So there must be something to it.
But let’s take a moment to consider how well past predictions of this model have matched what we observe. The model predicted that Uranus and Neptune shouldn’t be radiating a greater amount of heat than they receive from the sun, shouldn’t have very strong magnetic fields, and shouldn’t be geologically or atmospherically active. Basically, they should be cold and dead.
So how did those predictions stand up to reality? When the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft visited Uranus and Neptune, they discovered that these planets aren’t cold and dead. They both have strong magnetic fields. They both radiate more heat energy out into space than they get from the sun. And Neptune has the strongest winds in the solar system, measured at more than 1100 mph. In other words, they are both warm and active.
This isn’t a surprise to the biblical creationist, since he knows that the solar system is young. While 6000 years is sufficient time for a rather small body to cool down and enter geological and atmospheric stasis, we’d still expect any large body to be warm and active. We not only weren’t surprised by this, we even correctly predicted the strength of Uranus magnetic field, in sharp contrast to the evolutionists’ predictions.
So you can see why I ask the question, “Will Pluto surprise us?”
While Pluto is much smaller, and (usually) further away than the outer planets, is it large enough that it might still retain some heat? Is it’s atmosphere going to be active? Might we even find evidence one day that it once had a strong magnetic field?
While we can’t say for sure what we’ll find when New Horizons reaches Pluto, one thing seems almost certain: the astronomers are probably in for a surprise.