NASA space probes and the works of Arthur C. Clarke can both be appreciated on their substantial merits. But some feel the need to fuse these elements, with the result being the creation of new habitable worlds. Only a select few will be allowed to access these worlds, which will be on the moons of a former gas planet that transformed into a star. Meanwhile the rest of us will be pulled or pushed into a fiery or icy death by the creation of this second sun.
The idea seems lifted from Clarke’s Space Odyssey works in which an alien monolith orbits Jupiter and replicates itself billions of times by using Jovian matter to condense the planet until nuclear fusion is attained. This leads to a freshly-minted star, which is capable of sustaining life on the moons it pilfered from Jupiter. The central feature of the associated conspiracy theory is that NASA is attempting the real thing in a project uncreatively named the Lucifer Project.
Theorists say this was first tried in 2003 when NASA plunged the Galileo probe into Jupiter. Scientists were worried that allowing it to crash into a Jovian moon would run the risk of contaminating any potential microbial life that resided there. Theorists, however, dismissed this as a cover story and said the real intent was to turn Jupiter into a star.
In what would seem a fatal blow to the theory, Jupiter maintained its planetary status. But apocalyptic soothsayers seldom settle back into the fabric of their extant planet when their panicky predictions fizzle. So the destruction of Galileo was written off as a practice run and, fortunately for the theorists, our solar system houses more than one gas giant, so they can afford a doomsday do-over.
The isthmus of common ground shared by NASA and the theorists is that the administration will end its current Cassini mission in nine months by plunging it into Saturn. NASA says this is to avoid contaminating the planet’s moons, while theorists say Freemasons, Illuminati, or Bilderbergers have ordered its plunge in order to create nuclear fusion that will produce a sun capable of sustaining the elites’ life on Saturnian moons.
Some astronomers believe that if Jupiter or Saturn had much more mass, they could have become stars, and the theorists weld this plausible scenario with the notion that space probes could serve as a the fuel that ignites this nuclear fusion.
In order for Gemini and Cassini to travel, they require a non-solar fuel source once they get about three blocks past Mars. Hence, these probes are propelled by the radioactive decay of plutonium 238 pellets inside of Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs). But this fuel source also plays the key role in Saturn’s manmade fusion, according to the theory. Astronomy blogger Ian O’Neill explained how the theorists think this will work:
“Dropping Cassini into a place with large atmospheric pressure will compress the probe and detonate it like a nuclear bomb. This will trigger a chain reaction, kick-starting nuclear fusion, and turning Saturn into a fireball. This second sun will have dire consequences for us on Earth, killing millions from the huge influx of radiation by this newborn star.” By then, the elite will be aboard their salvation spaceship and headed to this new home.
There are several reasons why using NASA probes to create new suns and habitable zones will remain in the realm of science fiction. The first sizable obstacle is that plutonium 238 is not weapons grade. Also, the tiny pellets of plutonium 238 that are used to heat and power the probes are in separate, damage-proof cylinders. Finally, the probes burn and break up, eliminating any chance of the plutonium reaching critical mass.
Brian Dunning at Skeptoid further explained, “This critical mass has to be imploded with a simultaneous explosion from all sides, applying sudden pressure precisely from all angles at the exact instant. This couldn’t happen with an RTG design. Although each RTG does theoretically have enough plutonium to make up a critical mass, there isn’t any way that it could all be brought together into the right shape. Any type of pressure or crash event has already sent all the separate impact shells scattering about space, and each is far too small to ever achieve critical mass and implode.”
And even if this all magically happened, Saturn wouldn’t morph into a star anyway. Unless nuclear fusion can be maintained within a stellar body, the reaction would quickly fizzle out. Astronomers estimate this would require a body at least 80 times the size of Jupiter in order to have adequate gravitational confinement.
In response to his column, Dunning received an e-mail from someone identifying himself as Conrado Salas Cano. Cano explained that these obstacles will be overcome because of the advanced knowledge of aliens with whom NASA is secretly working. This enables Cano to confidently assert that in nine months we will see “the sudden appearance of a second bright star in place of Saturn when Cassini is disposed of in the atmosphere of this giant ringed planet.”
So you can look at the night sky next September to see if this has happened. But if feeling the need for unrealistic space entertainment, I suggest reading Clarke instead.