Andy Lloyd – Has Deep Impact’ proven Sitchin’s Theory?
On 4th July 2005 NASA celebrated American Independence Day in style. It had sent a space-probe called Deep Impact towards a run-of-the-mill short period comet called Tempel 1. As the probe approached, it dropped a smaller probe, about the size of a washing machine, into the path of the approaching comet. The impact not only created a great fireworks display for the watching telescopes, but it also promised to give astronomers a rare glimpse of the interior of a comet.
Over a month later, we are still awaiting the results of the spectrographs taken by various research groups connected with the project. It turns out that we have some more months to wait yet. One wonders why.
Recently, the author and journalist Linda Moulton Howe published an interview with Dr Carey Michael Lisse, Prof. of Physics at the University of Maryland, a member of the Deep Impact Science Team (18). He was about to attend the 9th International Asteroids, Comets and Meteors Conference in Brazil, and shared some of the material he was about to present there. He explained that the scientific work was still on-going, dependent as it was upon calibration of spectrographic data. But preliminary results were both exciting, and also rather puzzling.
It turns out that Comet Tempel 1, which is composed mostly of water ice, contains every rock-forming element found on Earth. It also contains carbonates, indicating rock similar to limestone. This is very odd, because limestone requires a liquid water environment to form, as well as other ingredients like silicates.
How did a comet meandering slowly through the frigid outer solar system end up with limestone in its rocky composition? It doesn’t seem possible, based upon our current knowledge of the formation of Solar System objects.
There’s another problem emerging from the Deep Impact data. Comet Tempel 1 doesn’t seem to have iron amongst its elemental constituents. This is also very odd, because iron is a common element in the Solar System. Now, it may turn out that these preliminary findings aren’t complete, and that other data has yet to come out to explain these oddities. But if there’s some truth to this information then there should be some good news for Mr Zachariah Sitchin here. Why? Because it may be possible that this humble comet is about to prove his “12th Planet Theory”.
If limestone can’t form in a standard comet environment, then the implication is that the semi-rocky interior of Tempel 1 first formed in a planetary embryo, if not part of a full-scale major planet. This comet would seem to have once been part of something much bigger than itself. Keen-eyed readers will recall a moment ago that Professor Lisse said that all of the elements found in rocks on Earth are present in this comet. Is this a coincidence? What’s going on here?
Lee Covino, the New Yorker who has just edited my new book, is very excited about the Deep Impact data (or lack of it so far). He thinks that there is something strange about this news blackout, because this data should have been available almost straight away. Instead, the scientists are sitting on it, and plan to release it gradually through the astronomical and astrophysical journals. That seems to run against the grain of media-friendly science, where NASA catapults every shred of news into the media as soon as it’s available. One would have thought that Deep Impact was a media-friendly piece of science that would command world attention. So why the caution being displayed by NASA scientists on this occasion? Is there something about this data which is making them uncomfortable?
Well, what if Comet Tempel 1 is basically a big chunk of watery Earth rock? What if the composition of its elements and isotopes matches that of our own planet? How on Earth could the scientists explain that one? Comet Tempel 1 is a standard short range comet, implying that its composition may be shared by other comets. They can’t all be icy rocks originally from Earth, can they?
They could if Sitchin is correct. If Earth’s primordial precursor was a larger, watery version of our world, and was struck by a massive planetary object, then chunks of that early Earth could have been sent spinning through the Solar System. Earth itself then migrated inwards, as we have discussed above. Not only that, but such a theory would explain the lack of iron on Comet Tempel 1. The iron making up the Earth tends to sink to the core, meaning that a surface strike would have sent a disproportionate quantity of iron-poor rocks into space. Hence, the resultant comets would have no iron. But they would have plenty of water ice, as this comet shows.
If the isotopic ratio of the water blasted out of Tempel 1 by Deep Impact is the same as Earth, then Zachariah Sitchin will have good reason to host his own fireworks party. The data will prove that these comets resulted from a massive planetary strike on Earth early in the history of the Solar System.
Some commentators are deeply suspicious of the way the Deep Impact data is being handled. Richard Hoagland pulls no punches in his assessment of the situation. He has shown that the claimed difficulties of obtaining spectra, cited by Dr Lisse, are contradicted by early press releases by the Deep Impact team (19). These seemed to indicate that everything went really well just after the impact event, and that great spectra were dutifully obtained by the scientific teams involved in the project. That’s not what Dr Lisse now says, though. He claims that the mother craft’s instruments were not correctly aligned. It’s not yet clear how such a discrepancy could be accounted for, or how much reliable data will be forthcoming publicly over the coming months. Richard Hoagland smells a rat, and I can certainly see the motive behind it if he turns out to be right.
More details have emerged in September about some of the unusual compounds found within Tempel 1:
“There are also surprise ingredients, such as clay and chemicals in seashells called carbonates. These compounds were unexpected because they are thought to require liquid water to form. “How did clay and carbonates form in frozen comets?” asked Lisse. “We don’t know, but their presence may imply that the primordial solar system was thoroughly mixed together, allowing material formed near the Sun where water is liquid, and frozen material from out by Uranus and Neptune, to be included in the same body.”
Also found were chemicals never seen before in comets, such as iron-bearing compounds and aromatic hydrocarbons, found in barbecue pits and automobile exhaust on Earth. The silicates spotted by Spitzer are crystallized grains even smaller than sand, like crushed gems. One of these silicates is a mineral called olivine, found on the glimmering shores of Hawaii’s Green Sands Beach.” (20)
Either all of the terrestrial bodies in the solar system have similar chemical constituents and compounds present, or Tempel 1 does indeed sound like a chip of the old block; Earth! Scientists working on the project wonder whether Tempel 1 is truly representative of typical solar system comets, however (21). Indeed, they go further, suggesting that there may be no such thing as a ‘typical’ comet at all. Tempel 1, which originate in the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt, does not share similar characteristics with other comets which are from the same vicinity. Perhaps this suggests that the physical environment in the distant Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt was once more complex than previously thought, which would be an interesting revelation in itself.
This comet may be provoking more questions than providing answers.