[By Earl Blacklock] Have you ever wondered why countries spend hundreds of billions, perhaps even trillions of dollars on non-military space exploration? Many of the usual explanations – our instinct for exploration, the advancement of science – seem to be suspect since the cost is so astronomical (pun intended). Surely we can find less expensive ways to satiate our instincts and increase our knowledge.
In fact, the news media explanation that space exploration is to “discover the origins of life and the universe” is likely the most accurate. Not satisfied with any explanation that does not preclude a divine origin to – well, everything – the scientific industrial complex works apace to fill in all the holes in the narrative of how we came to be. And there are a lot of holes.
One that is most troubling is the explanation of how our life-sustaining oceans came about. Simple, we have been told. Comets contain water and when they impacted the earth, they acted as a water delivery method. Over centuries and eons, they delivered enough water to cover three quarters of the Earth with oceans.
I’ve always looked askance at that explanation. If comets are the explanation, then the question still remains – why does Earth seem to be the only planet in our solar system with an ocean system that can sustain life?
According to a New York Times article written by Kenneth Chang (December 10, 2014), most scientists had rejected the comet explanation by 2004. Then in 2011, a team of scientists at the Herschel Space Observatory observed that the amount of deuterium in water coming off the comet Hartley 2 matched Earth’s deuterium “signature”. (Deuterium is also known as heavy hydrogen, a component of heavy water.) The comet explanation came back into vogue.
Until now. The European Space Agency’s successful mission to land a probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has established that the water on the comet on its journey around the sun contains double the amount of deuterium of Earth’s oceans. And, according to the principal investigator for the Rosetta instrument that provided the data, Kathrin Altwegg, this now “probably rules out” the role of comets as the primary source of water here on Earth.
The reaction from scientists has doubtless followed the scientific method rigorously. Having discovered that a major underpinning of earth science has been proved wrong, they are certain to question all of their assumptions, including the assumption that earth’s water came to the planet from extra-planetary sources. Wait, what?
“With comets unlikely,” Chang writes, “most astronomers now think Earth’s water came from asteroids.” Given the short time between this finding and the reported consensus, that’s an incredible display of – well, something. When you are determined to ignore any possibility that God created the heavens and the earth, the notion that asteroids could substitute for comets in the narrative is as good an explanation as any, I guess.
Interestingly, the Rosetta instrument has also discovered that the comet stinks. Literally. It “discovered that the comet exuded the scents of formaldehyde and rotten eggs.”
I think that’s appropriate somehow.
- Comet Data Clears Up Debate on Earth’s Water: New York Times
Read more in this series:
- I. It’s turtles all the way down
- II. More turtles all the way down
- III. Honey I shrunk the universe
- IV. Science continues to advance – sort of
- V. Why I’m a Climate Change Skeptic