As another beautiful Star Wars Day has come and gone, I, as I do from time to time, pondered our own existence on this amazing planet, Earth, that somehow came to be. I will preface the rest of this article with letting you, the reader, know, this will not be about Star Wars. It merely inspired these thoughts today, along with the picture above. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft deliver this image, along with many others, that are the closest images of Saturn in history! That, in and of itself is worth noting on its own; however, what’s even more remarkable is how Saturn, along with Jupiter, saved Earth in the early formation of this solar system.
Billions of years ago, when our solar system was just forming, the gas giant Jupiter was growing immensely, picking up all the raw materials in the outer reaches of our solar system. As other planets began to coalesce, Jupiter’s great mass began to draw off materials that could have formed into Mars. As it continued to grow, it moved in closer and closer to the center of our solar system. This is the main reason that Mars happens to be smaller than Earth. Our planet didn’t have such a massive planet pulling from the raw material that became Earth. Luckily for us, Jupiter had a slightly less massive, but still gargantuan planet in Saturn that was shifting it’s own gravitational force.
Scientist have learned in their observations of other solar systems as well as theoretical models of solar system building, that many gas giants like Jupiter revolve much closer to their central star. This is because their great mass steals the raw materials from what would be the more nearby planets and gets drawn in closer to their central star. This could have been the fate of Earth, if not for the dance between Jupiter and Saturn. As Jupiter continued its barrage on Mars’ formation, Saturn swept in and its gravitational pull put a halt to the onslaught that Jupiter may have caused. This brought balance to our solar system, and allowed the four inner planets to continue to evolve from raw materials left over. This also lead to the Earth being bombarded by comets in it’s infancy, a process that many scientist believe amassed Earth’s abundance of water.
Fast forward to present day, when the universe has settled into it’s delicate and beautiful balance. Jupiter now acts as our shield, catching many asteroids on our behalf, and flinging a bunch more out into the far reaches of our solar system with its immense gravitational pull. The planet that once could have destroyed us, if not for Saturn, is now our planet’s biggest shield and protector in the solar system.
There are a lot of cryptic messages in there to me. But I’ll just leave you with this. The more I study and learn about the formation of our solar system, and subsequently Earth, the crazier it seems to me that we ever made it this far. There probably is other intelligent life in the universe. There probably are other planets as fortunate as ours to be perfectly equipped and have all the cards fall into the exact right places, like what Saturn and Jupiter did for us. But who knows if we’ll ever find them, and if we’ll ever be able to reach them? We have the perfect place right here, so long as we protect it.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.” I could not agree more.
Nick Smith – Geek Vibes Nation