“The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
It is raining ice particles on the surface of Saturn, and the source of that rain is the planet’s unusual ring system.
Saturn is so spectacular, that we have to revisit it time and time again, even though we have talked about it before in previous Creation Moments. When I first saw telescope images of Saturn, as a boy, I was open-mouthed. Modern exploration, including spacecraft, has only served to increase our surprise and delight at the planet, with its magnificent, highly photogenic ring system.
Voyager I, launched in 1977, and flying by Saturn in 1980, hinted at the concept of ring rain. More recent NASA observations have confirmed that particles of ice from the rings are being pulled by gravity into the planet. The rate at which this is happening suggests that Saturn’s rings are slowly disappearing. If the current rates continue, Saturn’s rings could disappear in 100 million years!
“This is relatively short, compared to Saturn’s age of over 4 billion years,” says James O’Donoghue of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The calculations are accurate, but are based on the idea that this ring rain has always happened at a constant rate, and will always continue at that same rate. This is a principle that makes no sense, when we observe that the Bible’s timescale of about 6,000 years is much less. I cannot say why this process is happening, but I see no reason why God would end the tour of duty of Saturn’s rings.
Prayer: When we look at the wonderful objects of beauty throughout the universe, Lord, we, like the psalmist, wonder why You would be concerned with such as us. Amen.
Author: Paul F. Taylor
Ref: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. “Saturn is losing its rings at ‘worst-case-scenario’ rate.” ScienceDaily, 17 December 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181217120032.htm>. Image: NASA, Public Domain.
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