Project Lucifer: Will Cassini Turn Saturn into a Second Sun? (Part 1)

The story: On October 15th 1997, the Cassini-Huygens mission blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to explore Saturn and its moons. It continues to study the ringed gas giant today and its mission has been extended till 2010. Cassini is is powered by 32.8 kg (72 lbs) of plutonium fuel. A radioactive power source is the only option for missions travelling beyond the orbit of Mars as sunlight is too weak for solar panels to be effective. However, NASA (in association with secret organizations, such as the Illuminati or the Freemasons) wants to use this plutonium for a “higher purpose”, dropping Cassini deep into Saturn at the end of its mission where atmospheric pressures will be so large that it will compress the probe, detonating like a nuclear bomb. What’s more, this will trigger a chain reaction, kick-starting nuclear fusion, turning Saturn into a fireball. This is what has become known as The Lucifer Project. This second sun will have dire consequences for us on Earth, killing millions from the huge influx of radiation by this newborn star. Earth’s loss becomes the Saturn moon Titan’s gain, suddenly it is habitable and the organizations playing “God” can start a new civilization in the Saturn system. What’s more, exactly the same thing was attempted when the Galileo probe was dropped into Jupiter’s atmosphere in 2003…

The reality: Now that the Cassini mission has been extended by two years, we can expect this conspiracy theory to become more and more vocal in the coming months. But like the Galileo/Jupiter/second sun theory, this one is just as inaccurate, once again using bad science to scare people (much like Planet X then)…

So what happened when Galileo dropped into Jupiter?

Galileo undergoing preparations before launch in 1989. Credit: NASA

Well… nothing really.

In 2003, NASA took the prudent decision to terminate the hugely successful Galileo mission by using its last drops of propellent to push it at high speed into the gas giant. By doing so, this ensured the probe would burn up during re-entry, dispersing and burning any contaminants (such as terrestrial bacteria and the radioactive plutonium-238 fuel on board). The primary concern about letting Galileo sit in a graveyard orbit was that if mission control lost contact (very likely as the radiation belts surrounding Jupiter were degrading the probe’s ageing electronics), there may have been the possibility that Galileo would crash into one of the Jovian moons, contaminating them and killing any possible extra-terrestrial microbial life. This was a serious concern, especially in the case of Europa which could be a prime location for life to thrive below its ice-encrusted surface.

Now this is where the intrigue begins. Long before Galileo plummeted into Jupiter’s atmosphere, conspiracy theorists cited that NASA wanted to create an explosion within the body of the gas giant, thus igniting a chain reaction, creating a second sun (Jupiter is often called a ‘failed star’, although it has always been way too small to support nuclear reactions in its core). This was proven wrong on many counts, but there were three main reasons why this could not happen:

  1. The design of the radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) supplying energy to the craft wouldn’t allow it.
  2. The physics behind a nuclear explosion (nuclear fission) wouldn’t allow it.
  3. The physics of how a star works (nuclear fusion) wouldn’t allow it.

Five years after the Galileo impact, Jupiter still looks to be in fine health (and it certainly isn’t close to being a star). Although history has already proven you can’t create a star from a gas giant using a space probe (i.e. Jupiter + ProbeStar), conspiracy theorists think that NASA’s evil plan failed and there is some evidence that something did happen after Galileo got swallowed by Jupiter (and that NASA is pinning their hopes on the Cassini/Saturn combo).

Cue the Big Black Spot

The mystery black spot in 2003 (by Eric Ng) compared with one of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 fragment impact sites in 1994 (NASA)
The mystery black spot in 2003 (by Eric Ng) compared with one of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 fragments impact sites in 1994 (NASA)

Backing up the conspiracy theorists’ claims that there was an explosion inside the Jovian atmosphere after Galileo hit was the discovery of a dark blob near the equator of Jupiter a month after the event. This was widely reported across the web, but only a couple of observations were made before it disappeared. Some explanations pointed out that the blob could have been a short-lived dynamic atmospheric feature or it was a shadow from one of the Jovian moons. After this initial excitement, nothing else surfaced about the phenomenon. However, some were keen to point out that the dark patch on Jupiter’s surface may have been a manifestation of a nuclear detonation from Galileo deep within the planet which, after a month, eventually floated to the surface. Comparisons had even made with the 1994 features generated by the impact of the pieces of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 (pictured above).

What ever the cause of this dark feature, it didn’t come from Galileo as a nuclear detonation simply was not possible. What’s more, a nuclear detonation from the Cassini mission when it enters Saturn’s atmosphere in 2010 is also impossible, and here’s why…

The Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs)

The Cassini RTG, one of three on board. Credit: NASA

RTGs are a tried and tested technology in use since the 1960’s. Various RTG designs have been used on a huge number of missions including Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini and, most recently, New Horizons. RTGs are a very dependable source of power for space missions where solar panels have not been an option. For Cassini, if solar panels were used, they would need to have a huge area to collect the meagre sunlight at 10 AU, thus impractical to launch and operate.

The three RTGs on board Cassini are fuelled by small pellets of plutonium-238 (238Pu) encased separately in shock-proof containers known as general purpose heat source modules. There are 18 modules in each RTG. Through the use of thermocouples, the steady heat generated by the radioactive decay of the plutonium isotope is converted into electricity to supply Cassini. It is worth noting at this point that 238Pu is not weapon grade (i.e. it is very difficult to generate nuclear fission, 239Pu is more suited for this purpose). There are also dozens of Radioisotope Heater Units (RHUs) on board Cassini that provide a steady heat to critical subsystems, which contain single pellets of Pu-238. Again, these units are separated and shielded, each weighing 40 grams. For more details on this, check out the NASA Factsheet: Spacecraft Power for Cassini.

Inside an RHU and RTG (Roland Piquepaille)
Inside an RHU and RTG (Roland Piquepaille)

Shielding is critical for each plutonium pellet, primarily to prevent radioactive contamination during launch of space missions. Should there be an incident during launch, space agencies such as NASA must assure the containment of the radioactive material. Therefore all RTGs and RHUs are completely safe regardless of the stresses they are put under.

So, like Galileo, Cassini will hit Saturn’s atmosphere at a high velocity (Galileo hit the Jovian atmosphere at a speed of 50 km/s) and disintegrate very quickly before burning to a cinder. The point I want to highlight here is that Cassini will break apart like any fast-moving object during re-entry.

Still, conspiracy theorists are quick to point out that Cassini is carrying a huge amount of plutonium, totalling 32.8 kg (even though it is not the weapon-grade 239Pu and all the bits of 238Pu are tiny pellets, encased in damage-proof containers, being scattered through Saturn’s atmosphere). But ignoring all the logical arguments against, it will still generate a nuclear explosion, right?

Alas, no.

So how does a nuclear bomb work anyway?

David A Hardy
Artist impression of Galileo burning up when falling into the Jovian atmosphere. Credit: David A Hardy

For a general run-down of the basics behind a nuclear weapon, check out the very clear description at How Stuff Works: How Nuclear Bombs Work (scroll down to “Implosion-Triggered Fission Bomb,” as this is what the conspiracy theorists believe Cassini will emulate).

So there’s Cassini, plummeting through Saturn’s atmosphere in two years time. As it gets deeper, bits fall off and burnt by the friction caused by re-entry. When I say fall off, I mean they are no longer attached. For a nuclear detonation to occur we need a solid mass of weapon grade plutonium. By solid mass, I mean we need a minimum amount of the stuff for nuclear fission to occur (a.k.a. “critical mass”). The critical mass of 238Pu is approximately 10 kg (US DoE publication), so Cassini has enough 238Pu for three crude nuclear bombs (ignoring the fact that it is very difficult to build a 238Pu weapon in the first place). But how could all those tiny pellets of 238Pu be pulled together, in free-fall, casings removed, letting the pressure of Saturn’s atmosphere force it all together tipping it toward critical mass? Is that really possible? No.

An imploding nuclear weapon (
An imploding nuclear weapon (

Even if by some chance all the 238Pu in one RTG melded together, how would it detonate? For detonation of an implosion-triggered fission bomb to occur, sub-critical masses need to be forced together at the same instant. The only way this is possible is to surround the sub-critical masses with high-explosives so a shock wave rapidly collapses the sub-critical masses together. Only then may a chain reaction be sustained. Unless NASA has been really sneaky and hidden some explosives inside their RTGs, detonation is not possible. Using atmospheric pressure alone is not a viable explanation.

Now we can see that it is pretty much impossible for the plutonium on board Cassini to create a nuclear explosion. But if there was a nuclear detonation, could a chain reaction occur? Could Saturn become a star?

Find out in Part 2 of Project Lucifer: Will Cassini Turn Saturn into a Second Sun?

(A special thanks goes to Selene Spencer at Paranormal Radio for highlighting this topic on their website’s discussion forum.)

83 Replies to “Project Lucifer: Will Cassini Turn Saturn into a Second Sun? (Part 1)”

  1. Goody. Hope this happens.

    Does anyone know a good Real Estate Agent to buy some land on Titan?

  2. Fantastic article as always, I enjoyed reading it greatly but I can see conspiracy theorists eating away at it like crazy!

  3. I feel sorry for these conspiracy theorists. They really should step outside from their dungeon and start living their lives.

    Good article.

    Science may sometimes look simple, but it isn’t. And Science isn’t truth, it’s just theories and testing theories and if the theory works – it’s valid untill it can be proven unvalid.

  4. Just wondering though, would Saturn actually blow-out when / if (more likely when though) this happens?
    Would the radiation be that high, compared to the amount Earth receives from the sun? (i can’t remember the distances between the 2 sets)

    Also, I say when because it could be a feasible project, why not create a 2nd star? Could even be used for travel outside the solar system (if you could manage to move it… )
    Create some sort of dyson sphere to collect all the excess radiation and channel it to thrusters a set positions around the thing (or some other futuristic propulsion technology)

    But then it could cause massive disruption to the solar system.
    BUT, by then, since we managed to move a star in the first place, it would be easy enough to fix any screwed up orbits.
    And maybe, just maybe, we will actually have a decent Earth Defense Force! (asteriods mainly, maybe those Go’oald too, damn snakes)

  5. “This second sun will have dire consequences for us on Earth, killing millions from the huge influx of radiation by this newborn star. Earth’s loss becomes the Saturn moon Titan’s gain, suddenly it is habitable”

    r-i-g-h-t – So this new sun will basically drench a world 882 million miles away from it in deadky radiation, yet a moon only 760,000 miles away will escape this onslaught …. I always thought the closer you arem the nore you would get….

  6. I am so glad there are ignorant paranoid people in the world. It makes life so much more entertaining. What was the one I read/ watched the other day…. oh ya, the one about the evil reptilian’s in the earth at war with the gray’s who live on mars, and in 2012, they will battle again, destroying/ enslaving us. The ancient Nordics were somehow involved too… LOL. It was a half hour video too! You just can’t make this stuff up, it’s great.

  7. Nice job with this story. I really enjoyed how it starts out! I’ve had to answer this question more than several times.

    Even if everything was perfect to begin a chain reaction creating a huge explosion , the planet would pretty much just absorb it and carry on its merry way. While Saturn is a very large gas planet, its density is quite low.

    So theorhetically, even if we could get the “fire” started and had the correct mixture to continue to fuel, the gasses would burn off “relatively” quickly.

    So unfortunately, the chances of seeing a second star light up from Saturn is pretty much zero.

  8. Correct.

    Just another whack job conspiracy theory.

    I guess you could call Saturn and Jupiter both failed stars. They’ve got the gaseous make-up right? Just not the density and ability to start fusion, correct? If that was the opposite, they both would have been blazing for a quite a while, but most likely would have burned out well before the Solar System was a billion years old. They’re just too small. I would think, anyways.

  9. “I feel sorry for these conspiracy theorists. They really should step outside from their dungeon and start living their lives.” – Wizardd

    Good idea, let’s start a conspiracy to put them all in a dungeon, preerably on Saturn.

  10. Wow anyone who believes we could turn either Saturn or Jupiter into a sun is a total crack head.

  11. A dozen or so scientists decide in the early 1960’s to hide the fact of Life on Mars so that humanity doesn’t destroy itself intentionally by germ warfare experiments with alien microbes or unintentionally by back contamination. They decide instead to wage a decades long struggle to build a 1/2 trillion dollar international space station for the good of mankind, and dissuade attempts of making a serious to find life on Mars, until the Space Station is complete (where the samples can be analyzed in safety). The few scientists that find out and won’t go along are eliminated. Sorry, not nukes on Jupiter, or glass domes on the moon, but could this really be happening? That’s why we wrote “Imminent Discovery”……

  12. The whole creating a star thing is totally ridiculous, but if I may, I’d like to wear my ignorance on my sleve for a second. The Tungusta Event (Russia) has been shown that it detonated well within our atmosphere and not due to impact on the ground. Obviously, it had much more mass than a meager Earthling spacecraft, but could it explode never-the-less? (star formation aside that is 🙂

  13. Great article, but I notice that a regular sport here is denigration of other people, namely those who hold ideas that don’t stand up to scrutiny. From this subject to the Mayan calendar doomsday to faked moon landings to astrology to ufos, the tone is almost always derisive and snickering. I think there’s a lot of education that can be done by examining unscientific ideas, and something to be learned by looking at their underpinnings and cultural context, but that opportunity is usually given up for ‘fact snaps’.

    What science and historical record considers true changes over time as much as myth and legend do, and the bad ideas that people hold can tell us a lot about the interplay of knowledge and culture. Instead of snickering derision, why not apply a level head and good handle on current knowledge with an appreciation for humanity’s ability to reinvent knowledge over different eras and geographies?

  14. “Wow anyone who believes we could turn either Saturn or Jupiter into a sun is a total crack head.”

    I guess famed science fiction (and science inventor) Arthur C. Clarke was a complete crackhead then? Because he proposed turning Jupiter into a Sun in order to make its moons habitable, all the way back in the sixties.

    I’m not saying it’s possible NOW but, with sufficiently advanced technology we could artificially increase Jupiter’s density and/or gravitational pull to a level sufficiently large (at least 14-20 times) to initiate fusion.

    However, a nuclear explosion would have nothing to do with it. It would simply involve making the center of Jupiter dense enough that the molecules inside are crushed together so tightly that they fuse together, just like in any sun.

  15. I agree with mitkilurt, who needs TV sitcoms, the best paranoid theories are almost Pythonesque.

    Eric near Buffalo,

    Assuming that Jupiter or Saturn actually had *just* enough mass to start nuclear fusion they would still be burning long after the sun had exhausted it’s nuclear fuel (assuming no transfer of material to the sun during it’s red-giant phase). It’s a curious side-effect of the physics involved that the more massive a star is the shorter it lives.

  16. To Greg: You are right, super-critical masses forced together could also generate an explosion (albeit pretty inefficient), I think I might need to make that a little clearer in the article to avoid any misinterpretation, so thanks for pointing that out 🙂 I think the main point, as you say, is that it is not possible for Cassini to become a fission bomb due to the distribution of Pu around the craft. As it falls through the atmosphere, bits are more likely to fall off than fall together – I cannot think of any mechanism that would bring all the Pu together into a usable chunk of critical mass…

    To BHC: I’ll be getting to that in Part 2 of the series. But I’ll give you a hint: Saturn cannot be turned into a star for several reasons, but the primary reason is that it is not massive enough to sustain the gravitational compression on nuclei to maintain reactions in the core… I’ll hopefully be getting to this asap…

    Thanks all for your input, I’ll have a read of the rest of your responses throughout today 🙂

    Cheers! Ian 😀

  17. I always cringe when I hear Jupiter is a failed star. I guess when you think about it, and stretch it a bit it is possible. However once you study stellar makeup a bit you see it is a big stretch.
    Say for instance there is 250 steps in creating a star. Jupiter fell short after about the 35th step. Saturn would be even less. Maybe around the 8th.

  18. Tyler said:

    with sufficiently advanced technology we could artificially increase Jupiter’s density and/or gravitational pull to a level sufficiently large (at least 14-20 times) to initiate fusion.

    If we had a device that could magnify Jupiters gravity by a factor of 14-20 we wouldn’t need the moons, we would have an entire galaxy at our disposal.

  19. Eric Near Buffalo- The Jupiter/saturn star would acually last longer than Sol if they were to have formed. The whole thing with stars the bigger the less they live.The smaller the longer. However would combining them be enough to creat a red dwarf. I think its just another whack job conspiracy. I still however believe in Martian

  20. Hi patricio: Yes, you are right. It was only after I wrote this that I realized it was the storyline of 2010: Odyssey Two! – great story 🙂

    Cheers, Ian

  21. @ Tyler Durden
    Neither Jupiter nor Saturn can become any kind of start. The catch is not their density but mass. So to turn any of them into a star would require collecting enough material (and I guess it should be stuff like hydrogen and helium not rocks or ice) to reach the necessary mass. The problem is that there isn’t enough material in the entire solar system outside Sun to create a star (you would need in total at least around 87 times the mass of Jupiter).

    If you want to know how to make a star you can check with Wikipedia (

    Kind regards,

  22. Yeah, it’s an amusing story 🙂

    I’m an astronomy hobbyist, and this is the first time I saw this site. It seemed like a good one (seeing all the categories..).

    Anyway, while reading that in a serious matter (as i’m new here), I was really thinking: what kind of site is this? 😀

    That theory would be based on blast impact… I don’t know how much explosive force it could have, but I don’t the cassini crash would compare at all to for example the ‘shoemaker levy’ comet that hit Jupiter 🙂

  23. NoAstronomer:
    I forgot about the size thing. I was thinking that because Saturn and Jupiter would be relatively small, they’d burn up in no time. Definitely forgot about how our Sun has lasted so long and how a super massive star’s lifetime is a blip on a universal time scale. My bad. I know these things, but when I see something rediculous like the idea of sending a nuclear powered satellite into Saturn for the purpose of igniting a second Sun, some of that knowlege went out the window.

  24. ~~robklg Says:
    July 24th, 2008 at 11:14 am

    That theory would be based on blast impact… I don’t know how much explosive force it could have, but I don’t the cassini crash would compare at all to for example the ‘shoemaker levy’ comet that hit Jupiter ~~

    – Good call robklg

  25. We must remember conspiracy theorists don’t convince anyone who matters of their plots. Just like this article probably won’t convince anyone ‘Whoa, so NASA actually isn’t going to turn Saturn into a star,” conspiracy theorists don’t convince anyone (who is intelligent or whose opinion matters in decisions or plans involving space) that NASA plans on turning Saturn into a sun.
    People who make these things up must be paranoid schizophrenics if they’re serious, and those who believe them don’t care enough to try to do anything about it.

    All these conspiracy theories hold two things in common:
    1) they give a set date when some major disaster is going to happen.
    2) that date will pass and no major disaster will happen

    You could just as easily disprove them by not writing articles (but then there’d be no fun for readers like me, so keep writing them, please!)

  26. If Saturn was going to ignite, it would have done it on its own. A measly 72 pounds of Plutonium isn’t going to cut it, especially when you consider that Casini would have used a portion of its fuel on its real mission.

    We give nuclear bombs to much credit, they may devastate something on the human scale, but a planet the size of Saturn….please. Bring on the Death Star maybe.

  27. Just wait until NASA extends the mission by another two years so that decommissioning will be scheduled for 2012. That’ ll really set the nutters atwitter.

  28. The last time i saw something like this was way back on Fidonet (if you’re not old enough to have used Bulettin Board Systems, you won’t know what it was) when someone was screaming that dumping nuclear waste into the Sun would destabilize it, somehow…

    I pointed out that the Sun has probably taken almost planetary-sized hits from heavy-element objects in its history (some of which must have contained ores of fissionable materials), and yet it’s still here….

    (Never mind that a few tons of high-level waste would likely vaporize before even reaching the photosphere)

    And we’ve already *seen* Jupiter take cometary impacts without triggering anything. If this solar system’s gas giants were massive enough to support meaningful fusion in their cores, it would already be happening.

  29. I think Conspiracy Theorists and Scientists are two sides of the same coin. They both are intelligent, problem solving, and inquisitive; its just that one group has a poor choice of focus and not enough to do. Afterall many of these theories are highly researched, intricate, and well written (even if they are fiction)

    So for those of you who are degrading conspiracy theorists, think about how they could be convinced to use their brains for real science instead. Because, otherwise, as soon as you call them names, you are giving credence to the truely ignorant who attack science and try to make real science into a conspiracy.

  30. While, Jupiter doesn’t have enough mass to create it’s own fusion event, what would happen if a fusion event was artificially induced?

    is there enough material present to continue and thus ignite the rest of the planet?

  31. From the article..

    “For detonation of an implosion-triggered fission bomb to occur, sub-critical masses need to be forced together at the same instant. The only way this is possible is to surround the sub-critical masses with high-explosives”

    Don’t think me pedantic – but I think this is wrong. It is in fact possible to have a larger than critical mass of (say) Pu 238 without detonation, so long as the chunks surface area is sufficiently large. (i.e. its not spherical – but doughnut or hollow sphere shaped).

    Rather than bringing together sub critical chunks, detonation by implosion changes the shape of an already greater-than-critical-mass core from (say) a hollow sphere to a solid sphere. This reduces the total surface area of the core, making it statistically more likely that a given neutron will interact with an atomic nucleus within the core rather than escaping via the surface. This is pretty much the definition of critical mass.

    I’m not of course suggesting this would happen in the case of Cassini where the material would disintegrate and disperse in re-entry.

    But a very good article. I hope it doesn’t fuel the conspiracy theorists by providing them facts which they will happily distort, modify and misquote to support their insane claims!

  32. Wow I completely missed this! Then I thought I’d been taken away by black helicopters and put into deep freeze until April 1st.

    Great chuckle.

  33. There is only one meaningful conspiracy in The World, and that is being conducted by the same diabolical, rapaciously greedy, relentlessly ambitious arch-criminals who have plagued, and dominated it for centuries. Using the same simple basic formula for “success”: Start a War; Sell weapons and loan fiat “money” to all sides; Control the monetary policy and issue “money as debt” currency as interest bearing loans to The Treasuries of surviving nations, creating an ever expanding public taxpayer debt for working class citizens; Equaling perpetual economic and financial enslavement. Today’s incarnation of this, the richest family on the planet, possessing half the known wealth in the world (approx. $500+Trillion in Gold), may be found at, website for Paris Orleans, a private equity holding corporation, largely owned and controlled by Sir Evelyn Rothschild; Eric de Rothschild (Chairman); David Rene de Rothschild (Vice-Chairman); Sylvain Hefes (President); and Georges Babinet ( Managing Director). Their principal minority partners are the politically dis-enfranchised, but Super-Rich sociopaths, The Royal Houses of Europe, and a few Americans like The Rockefellers, The Mellons, The Bush-Walkers,etc, all calling themselves The One World Company. While they obviously have some undisclosed ulterior, sinister motives for funding NASA, The Super-Colliders, etc., all very profitable, taxpayer funded businesses, their current short terms goals are more earthly. As well concealed owners of both private banking cartel monopolies The Federal Reserve System of Banks/ Internal Revenue Service, and The European Central Bank, issuing an ever-expanding supply of worthless, fiat, “money as debt”, “out of thin air” Dollars and Euros, as interest bearing loans to National Treasuries, they have now decided to crash the Dollar, and the US Economy, leaving what will be approx. $21+Trillion in US public working class taxpayer debt owed to them, plus interest. Their European Union and Euro, already eclipsing the US, as the world’s largest economy, and “money” supplier, will prevail and dominate openly, from now on. This is all co-ordinated, timewise, with their engineered, artificially created, but now very real food “shortage”, designed to exterminate more than a billion “superfluous”, non-productive, or disobedient “mouths”. And, in a few weeks commencing World War III, with Israel’s attack upon Iran. After that, the joining of poverty stricken US, Mexico, and Canada in The North American Union, with a fiat currency Amero, as a further step towards The World Union, and total domination of all human life on the planet. So far, they are winning at all of it.

  34. Project Lucifer? Turning Jupiter (or saturn whatever)
    I think some people took Clarke’s Space Oddissey saga too seriously

  35. El 15 de octubre de 1997 se lanzó la misión Cassini-Huygens desde la Estación Cabo Cañaveral, de la Fuerza Aérea Norteamericana, con el objetivo de estudiar Saturno y sus lunas. Aún hoy continúa con el estudio del gigante gaseoso de los anillos y además se extendió su misión hasta 2010. La nave Cassini está accionada por 32,8 km de combustible de plutonio. […] Fuente: Ian O’Neill para Universe Today.

  36. Conspiracy theorists who concocted this fiction are imbecilles. They do not understand sicence and do not care to understand it. It is ridiculously easy to find good accurate information on any subject by using widely available search engines (i.e. Google,Yahoo). It is obvious such people never tried or simply can’t comprehend the plain English that apears after such a search. An elementary school student probably has a better understanding of how things work than these morons. The only positive thing that can be said about such people is that they are imaginative. It is up to the media I think to throw in a grain of editorial op-ed salt when they publish such gibberish so that lay people too lazy to look up the subject matter on their own in order to see what a farce the theory is do not get fooled and roped in. These conspiracy theorists could lead quite productive lives by writing fiction stories but insist on passing their fantasies off as non-fiction and instead become notorious as a result.

  37. Thanks for the great story, Ian. I especially liked your links to sites with scientific explanations & descriptions for readers edification. Personally, I think chances of this scenario playing out are similar to the LHC producing strangelets or mini black holes that will devour Earth. A great piece on some ‘scientific’ absurdity!

  38. For Gary, Saturn already has a Death Star called Mimas. Check out some Cassini or Voyager imagery.

  39. I think such conspiracy theories do not even deserve to be talked about on a scientific website.
    But it was still good reading; nice and well-written article with a catchy title..!
    I hope this convinces some of the conspiracy theory freaks (they are usually the same who think aliens live among us, and have abducted them on several occasions, and hope the Roswell aliens will save us..).

  40. @ BHC
    In order to sustain nuclear fusion the fusion fuel needs to be kept compact enough and needs to be kept in place (that’s the reason why you have a lower mass limit on a star). In case of a planet like Jupiter the explosion would just blow away all the material making a sustained fusion impossible. So the answer is “nope”.

    Kind regards,

  41. Just gotta say it. Scandal vs. candle, which one lights man”s path quicker and more often! Where has even common sense gone to?

  42. WoW, These conspiracy theory nut jobs need a hobby. Should we tell them about the Plutonian Ice People? I wonder if they realize that the very first conspiracy was planted in humans by a race of beings from far far away! Does anyone know the actual number of C. theories that have been PROVEN to be REAL? My guess is leaning toward ZERO!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHA

  43. Here’s a conspiracy: We don’t know whether Mars has microbial life, or is sterile, after 50 years, yet scientists claim the right to parade around in the black robes and pat each other on the back with awards and praise. Just because there are whacked-out conpiracy theories doesn’t mean you know the whole truth, or that real conspiracies don’t exist. If they didn’t exist, there wouldn’t need to be a crime called “conspiracy”. But I agree, most published conpiracies are really out there, and should be read as fiction……”Imminent Discovery” is not one of these books. It is a serious look at why we might not know if there’s life on Mars after 50 years.

  44. Heinlein put for in the 2000 series of stories that the aliens who left the gateway turn Saturn into a new small sun to give life to Titan. They did this by making the huge monolith in Saturn’s orbit replicate its self and the extremely dense copies all go down to Saturn and seriously jack up its mass, eventually causing fission to occur. Funny how people took this fictional ball and ran with it.

  45. “Pavel Smutny Says:
    July 25th, 2008 at 12:29 am
    There were many atomic bomb tests,…A. bombs were droped on Japan though officials, governments didn’t know what exactly would actually happen to people, to nature. Hydrogen, Neutron,…bombs were tested even in oceans,…though there was risk of igniting oceans, of the whole Earth. Scientiests want to make small black hole in labs, though it can sucks the entire Earth,…but Nobel price for Hawking,…is more important than enormous risk for whole mankind. You want to persuade us about clear human exploitation of Cassini-Cuygens probe. HA-HA-HA”


    All of this is false except for the first statement. Officials were quite aware of what would happen when the bomb was dropped. Physicists back then calculated precisely how much damage was going to result. Risk is calculated very carefully by physicists and was done in all of those tests and continues today. Scientists will not be making black holes that can suck up even a pencil. The baby black holes that might result and evaporate within microseconds in the Large Hadron Collider cannot possibly match the energies that a solar flare does or even the milder solar wind.All of the energies on earth in all of our labs along with all of the mass of the earth does not match that of Jupiter or Saturn.

    What you need to do is to take up a course in physics. The most fundamental law of physics that you and many conspiracy advocates are ignorant of is the Law of Conservation of Energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Electricity that you plug an appliance into in your wall socket is energy that is converted from solar system material, most of it from earth. The entire solar system does not have enough energy to be converted into a black hole. All of the energy used up in the solar system’s 4 billion history is not enough to convert to a black hole.

    A second area of ignorance lies in not undertanding the finite speed of light and its implications of what would happen to any surroundings from a quantum gravitational object holding a microsecond existence.

  46. The really sad thing about all of this is that it once again proves that people will believe whatever they -want- to believe…i.e. UFO’s, religion, etc., regardless of facts or reason. Because they believe so strongly, no amount of rational thinking will ever change their point of view. And because they do believe so strongly, they feel the impulsive need to “share” that belief with others.

    In this case these theorists have over looked one very small detail…beyond the science that clearly proves otherwise, why would NASA (or anyone for that matter) want to destroy the ONLY planet we have to live on? More over, we as a species are having trouble just getting back to the moon (even though that technology exists), let alone to someplace so distant such as Titan. Even if a “manned space flight” as far as Titan were possible, exactly how would one achieve it during the creation of a new sun? SPF 100,000 suntan lotion?

    Yes, I’m sure there are some folks….religious extremists perhaps, that would indeed like to see our wonderful little planet destroyed because they feel the human race is too sick to survive (and maybe they’re right), but I find if quite difficult to believe that an organization such as NASA, which has proven itself over and over again to be dedicated to science (and even on some level “life”), would be one such group. That simply doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Beyond all of the science (which certainly these people are incapable of understanding), there’s plain and simple common sense. Of course, people who would rather “believe” than understand and learn…such people aren’t going to be able to grasp that little concept either.

  47. This story is proof positive that people should not mix LSD, pot and alcohol.

    Anyone who believes this (stuff) should get a free ticket to the Yucatan penisula for the Mayan Doomsday prediction.

    One condition: After it fails to materialize, they’d have to walk home.

  48. These people are really getting lazy.

    First of all, why would nasa want to do this?

    Then, why would they tell us about it?

    And finally, why wouldnt they just send a large bomb (ca 100 MT) to do the job? Fission bombs produce very little power, it would be a waste of time. If the first one failed, you would expect them to up the power a bit.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  49. One thing that the conspiracy theorists should be given credit to is that they make our world a more fun place to live in…..
    thanks to them….we all can have some good fun!!!

  50. Tim, not all conspiracy theories are false. Google up the terms ESCHELON, COINTELPRO, Operation Northwoods, MKULTRA, some time for some fun reading. It is actually quite healthy to maintain a good level of skepticism about everything, especially everything originating from large corporations or the government.

  51. ^ Political conspiracies are rather boring. I mean, it’s a no-brainer. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Can there really be a doubt that every government that has ever existed has craved more power and gone to whatever shady lengths they needed to in order to expand theirs?

  52. As I recall, for the movie 2001, Jupiter was chosen not because of its greater mass, but because a convincing Saturn, a composite of a sphere with detailed rings, was beyond the special effects technology (and perhaps the budget) of that era. It was difficult enough just to create a believable matte of Jupiter.

    Kubrick wanted Saturn, but it was not to be.

  53. btw-
    Interesting.. Didn’t know that… But if we think about it, how much of the total mass of our system (minus the sun) is Jupiter?… Discounting dark matter, of course.. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.. 🙂 .. Jupiter is the logical choice for a ‘believable’ story… I guess they (he) just got lucky…

  54. Pavel, you have no background in plasma science or any science of any kind. You might have browsed a source but show no grasping of the material. You are assuming that the laws of physics operate differently in other parts of the universe and that is not the case. Spectroscopy has delivered that answer.

    People were not forced to look at anything just as Michaelson and Morley were forced to experiment with the dangerous mercury bath they used in their experiments. Nor was Rutherford forced to suffer what he wound up suffering in his dangerous experiments.

    People were forced against their wills in Nazi Germany by Mendele and some black prisoners in the U.S. were experimented on prior and during WWII. People were punished for that.

    Pavel, it appears that Aristotlean thought is governing you.

  55. To edit my above post…Michaelson and Morely were NOT forced into their situation and I might not have made that clear.

  56. Think about all the Conspiracy crap over the years…… They just can’t accept truth or science at any level.

    These people have WAAAY too much free time and should learn to do something constructive with it. Like get a job so they can buy rope for their own neck tie when they leap from the Brooklyn bridge.
    Now that would be a great humanitarian art form – Conspiracy Theorists hanging from a bridge. I’d pay to see it.. Over and over and over again….

    My favorite theory is that NASA faked the moon landing, meaning they’ve managed to keep the 400,000 employees and people involved quiet for forty years.

    Man, that has to be EXPENSIVE!!! No wonder they can’t afford all the missions they would like to.

  57. Ahhh to dream and have vision. What a stunning story, and to think my life was all the poorer for not having heard / read it till today ! Wonderful fiction is the result of wonderful minds, call them conspiracy theorists, or artists, daydreamers or whack jobs, they provide us with an alternative view that can only enrich and inspire.

    Thank you Ian, and I can’t wait for part two !!


  58. Well the only problem I could see is before you could reach a prompt critical reaction. The increasing temperatures would begin to melt and probably boil the plutonium. I would imagine that it would not remain essentially a compact environment. Also I would suspect the violent pressures involved would cause the material to become distorted and spread out making a PC event unlikely. The reason the bombs work is precise implosion in literally 1/10000 of a second. The descent towards a gas giants center takes considerably longer.

  59. Set Saturn ablaze so it makes helium out of hydrogen? Huh? Thought they need tritium for that (2 neutrons/atom) and most hydrogen atoms don’t have any neutrons and are therefore lighter. The heavier stuff would preferentially sink deep within Saturn, even under where deuterium (1 neutron)accumulates. Would think it’d be real(ly) hot that deep in Saturn, so the Cassini components would have long since vaporized before they get to the fusable stuff. Conclusion: Don’t worry about mad scientists (or anyone else) turning Saturn into a star. It’s not gonna happen.

  60. Interesting article? But not substantial. Though the masons always strive toward wisdom, and the golden ratio? It will not make sence to destroy any of the grand architect know work, Is that why the doomsayers always try to place suspitions on the masons? Try asking the vatican these are more likely to conjure up such extremeties and Robert Mugabe too.

  61. I don’t undersand why, when our world is in parell, we look at the seemingly easy way out and try to play God so we can not learn from our mistakes here and create doom in another part of our solor system. Stay on topic and face our humanly complex shadows here. It is perposterous to think that we are giving up on this planet when we haven’t even been enlightened enough to see it for it’s true beauty.

  62. There are strong differences between scientists and conspiracy theorists. One of those differences is education — a scientist has had thorough training in his or her field, and before that got a solid grounding in essential skills and knowledge such as history, mathematics, etc. This is rarely true of conspiracy theorists, most of whom seem to lack much of an education, including the most fundamental skills, such as literacy, logic, grammar, etc. Conspiracy theorists do frequently display rich imaginations, and might have made great artists if their artistic bent had been well-trained, but that doesn’t seem to happen. They have been short-changed educationally and, perhaps, developmentally — I think a lot of them *can’t* absorb even the most basic concepts necessary for them to comprehend what science is and does, and that may not be the schools’ fault. A shadowy participant in all this controversy and what has gone into it is (are?) the media. People with inadequate educations often turn to the TV and movies and so on as their window on a universe they can barely understand, often having difficulty separating what they see there from objective reality. Call the media a wild card which just adds fuel to the fire. Then there’s the blogosphere, which enables anyone with an opinion to post that opinion all over the place, and everyone else to see it. This is both good and bad — good, because it allows people to see what other people are doing, bad, because in the blogosphere, rumors often gain the same status that proven theories do. People with a scientific education know how to sort out rumor from useful data, but often others don’t. All of which makes for fascinating sociological analyses of subcultures like those of conspiracy theorists.

  63. Nota bene: Perhaps the greatest difference between conspiracy theorists and scientists is that scientists’s primary tools for determining the nature of reality are logic, reason, and data gained using repeated observations, while those of conspiracy theorists are fear and wish-fulfillment coupled with pure imagination. Scientists are looking for the shape of reality, while conspiracy theorists are looking for its meaning, especially as it applies to them. The two groups are almost complementary, in the same way that religion and science are, save that conspiracy theorists generally do not have the sort of educational background that would enable them to sort their beliefs out and see which ones work best and which ones don’t work.

  64. Pavel Smutny…

    You claim to know a lot about physics yet you have extremely horrible grammar and spelling errors throughout all your posts. Anyone who has that kind of knowledge should have some grasp on basic grammar and spelling. No professor I know would ever pass someone with grammar and spelling like yours being found on their thesis papers. Where did you learn this physics you claim to know? I am sure many would like to know.

    Great article : )

  65. The project is flawed, the Sun is not powered by Nuclear Fission. The Sun is electric. The Gas Giants will only “ignite” if there is transference of energy from the Sun (reported as occurring from NASA’s Chandra, as it reflex the Suns X-rays). This could be possible if our Solar System travels through enough stellar plasma.

    Yes, people will tend to disbelieve. Thats entirely you own prerogative and you are entitled to your own opinions.

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