View Full Version : Hoagland sez NASA nuked Jupiter, the black spot proves it

2003-Nov-11, 04:40 AM
Oog. :roll: #-o


Anybody interested in wading through this? It's making waves around the Internet, I could use some scientific debunking help with all the physics stuff, beyond the usual "there, there, it could never happen, Jupiter's too big for Galileo to affect it". I know that, and you know that, but the rest of 'em don't know that, and I need to counter this important-sounding physics stuff with some actual facts.

2003-Nov-11, 09:26 AM
There is a website attached to this messageboard;

and here is a badastronomy google for further info (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=galileo+site%3Abadastronomy.com&btnG=Google+Se arch)

2003-Nov-11, 10:41 AM
Bear in mind that this is strictly a layman's opinion, but here goes:

Although Galileo was subject to a rapid increase in ambient pressure during its descent, it's still not possible that it compressed the plutonium onboard. Wouldn't there also be a lot of friction involved? The spacecraft was probably a trail of superheated ash before the pellets were at the reported depth of 600 miles*.
Then there's the fact that plutonium-238 is not fissile, anyway.

*Miles?? Why do people still insist on using this archaic measurement system? :evil:

2003-Nov-11, 01:28 PM
Hoagland is a looney.

Alex W.
2003-Nov-11, 02:25 PM
Someone, please, throw a radium-painted glow-in-the-dark watch at him. Explain what you're going to do first, so he's aware of the terrifying risk of a massive fusion explosion.

2003-Nov-11, 03:00 PM
www.nukepills.com is being advertised on this thread. :roll:

Does this board have an official stance of nuclear power?

2003-Nov-11, 03:05 PM
Someone, please, throw a radium-painted glow-in-the-dark watch at him. Explain what you're going to do first, so he's aware of the terrifying risk of a massive fusion explosion. =D>

Aside to Jigsaw .. I've been checking the net periodically to see if there's an "official" update as to what this "spot" is. Haven't seen anything since the story broke a few weeks ago. While none of us believe in Hoagland's spew I know those other boards won't take our word for it .. if I see anything I'll post it here.

2003-Nov-11, 04:23 PM
I feel realy guilty now...... :(
I started a thread a while back suggesting that we nuke jupiter (as well as other planets) In order to create a new sun. :o

Just goes to show.....

2003-Nov-11, 04:30 PM
www.nukepills.com is being advertised on this thread. :roll:

Does this board have an official stance of nuclear power?

Yes, this board's stance on anything is what I say it is :lol:

Actually, I don't believe it has an official stance, but the unofficial stance by the regulars would probably be Pro-Nuclear power.

2003-Nov-11, 04:48 PM
www.nukepills.com is being advertised on this thread. :roll:

Does this board have an official stance of nuclear power?

Yes, this board's stance on anything is what I say it is :lol:

Actually, I don't believe it has an official stance, but the unofficial stance by the regulars would probably be Pro-Nuclear power.

Well personaly I feel let down by nuclear power by the fact that it has never created atomic monsters. :lol:
As a kid growing up I was promised by films that nuclear reactors would blow up and create a race of Godzilla's. Or failing that people with super human strengh. I theink we should scrap nuclear and get this cold fusion thing working.

Give me my cold fusion mutant super beings! =D>

2003-Nov-11, 05:39 PM
I'm getting an ad link for "Richard Hoagland's books" for this topic. #-o

2003-Nov-11, 06:49 PM
I'm getting ads for Hoagland's books and the Apollo 11 Mission Pin. Weird!

2003-Nov-11, 07:34 PM
*Miles?? Why do people still insist on using this archaic measurement system? :evil:
Perhaps you should post this on Bad Bad Astronomy:
There is about 50 pounds of Pu onboard....

2003-Nov-12, 12:34 AM
Hoagland says we nuked Jupiter eh? I haven't read that link yet... did he give any... motivation for this? :)

2003-Nov-12, 12:41 AM
Oh, okay. Just read the link. It didn't sound entirely looney, but I don't really know enough about the math involved. It does seem implausible though. Isn't there something of a difference between Jupiter's atmosphere and the hydrogen in a hydrogen bomb?

2003-Nov-12, 12:45 AM
Hoagland says we nuked Jupiter eh? I haven't read that link yet... did he give any... motivation for this? :)

Actually he's claiming that it was just another NASA stuff-up.. But I see now as you have read it you would know this.

Can anyone tell me at what latitude Galileo entered the Jovian atmosphere?

2003-Nov-12, 03:59 AM
Can anyone tell me at what latitude Galileo entered the Jovian atmosphere?

Just south of the equator, approximately 0.25 degrees S latitude.

2003-Nov-12, 05:33 AM
Are we sure that the new dark spot on Jupiter was not caused by a collision with Planet X? :lol:

No, perhaps the truth is that we did nuke Jupiter. We learned through our Martian contacts, that the Zetans were building a base there. We had to take them out. There is a secret war going on in space and their response was the solar flares we recently experienced. Nancy and Hoagland may be alien sympathizers... Of course the Chinese recent space shot was actually a diplomatic mission to exchange ambassadors in order to seek a truce. Everyone would expect the US to be in contact, so the fact that it was the Chinese implies it is a backchannel mission, and therefore makes it more likely to be real.

We have to reach a truce before Planet X gets here. The truth is that Planet X is the Zetan Death Star that will zap us rotate our axis in order to mess up the navigation of our ICBMs. It's not a real planet, it is the Xterminator of Planets.

"Help us O-Bad-One, you're our only hope..."

2003-Nov-12, 09:30 AM
There is a website attached to this messageboard...and here is a badastronomy google for further info

"Teach not thy grandmother to suck eggs", Eburacum.

I'm aware that "there's a website attached to this message board". And I'm aware of how to Google for stuff. I wasn't looking for the answer to, "Is Jupiter going to explode?" or, "What is the black spot?"

What I was hoping was that someone would wade through Hoagland's web page and look for egregious errors and idiocies. The BA doesn't address that, nor does Google. ;)

2003-Nov-12, 02:27 PM
Hoagland's ignorance is exceeded only by his inflated opinion of himself (e.g. falsely claiming original credit for the Europa-oceans idea).

The GPHS (General-Purpose Heat Source) units in the RTGs would not survive the Jupiter-entry profile. They would ablate, break up, and release the fuel clads. Since they were specifically designed to tumble during an accidental release and reentry into Earth's atmosphere, the 36 GPHSs would already be widely dispersed before the fuel clads were released and scattered even further. A bomb, on the other hand, requires extraordinarily precise timing and location of the fissile material.

As usual, Hoagland and company are talking out their collective a**. It's roughly equal parts ignorance, unfounded speculation, wishful thinking, and outright falsehoods. "Enterprise Mission", indeed. Harlan Ellison had it right:

"G******it! The world is just filling up with more and more idiots! And the computer is giving them access to the world! They're spreading their stupidity! At least they were contained before—now they're on the loose everywhere!"

2003-Nov-12, 03:51 PM
One point: Hoagland claims that each of the 128 pellets will fission individually if compressed. However, the pellets are only about an eighth of a kilogram each, compared with the 6.2 kilograms used by "Fat Man," the first plutonium A-bomb. I assume that they can still potentially fission, but the less plutonium, the more compression it would take.

2003-Nov-12, 04:14 PM
Even if Galileo somehow "nuked" Jupiter, I can't see what the big deal is. It would be like spitting in the ocean. Jupiter handled Shoemaker-Levy without a hitch .. 'nuff said. I think Hoagland and his ilk just like to hear themselves talk. Speaking of spots on Jupiter, has he explained the Great Red Spot yet? Maybe the Martians did it. :wink:

2003-Nov-12, 05:29 PM
If a stray neutron of the right energy were to impact a nuclide in one of the pellets, you'd get a fission. But, the problem is that in order for bombs to work, you need to have a mass sufficient for a cascade reaction. A couple of fission are meaningless.

2003-Nov-13, 03:42 AM
Can anyone tell me at what latitude Galileo entered the Jovian atmosphere?

Just south of the equator, approximately 0.25 degrees S latitude.

Do'h! I was hoping it wouldn't correspond with the black spot... Instead it's relatively close to being neatly lined up!

Don't tell anyone I said that though.

2003-Nov-13, 08:04 AM
Is there any possibility that Galileo created a butterfly effect when it entered Jupiter's atmosphere, somehow causing the black spot to appear? No explosions, no nukes, just plain old meteorology?

2003-Nov-13, 10:17 AM
I am sorry; that was a lazy dismissal of the Hoagland garbage. However the fact remains that his nonsense can be refuted point by point by the information on the BA webpage and associated links;
Like this...

Hoagland: Van der Worp claimed that, plunging into Jupiter’s deep and increasingly dense atmosphere, the on-board Galileo electrical power supply – a set of 144 plutonium-238 fuel pellets, arrayed in two large canister devices called “RTGs” (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators – see image and schematic, below) – would ultimately “implode”; that the plutonium Galileo carried would ultimately collapse in upon itself under the enormous pressures of Jupiter’s overwhelming atmosphere— Triggering a runaway nuclear explosion!

Badastronomer; But can the plutonium on Galileo explode like a bomb? No, it can't. That's because it's the wrong kind of plutonium. Like all elements, Pu has different isotopes. This means that in the nucleus of the atom, there are different numbers of neutrons. All plutonium atoms have 94 protons, but some of these atoms might have 144 neutrons, or 145. These isotopes are designated by the total number of protons plus neutrons. Plutonium 239, for example, has 94 protons and 145 neutrons.
These isotopes have different properties. The atomic nucleus of Pu239, for example, will split when hit by a neutron. This releases a lot of energy, as well as more neutrons. These hit other Pu239 atoms, which split, generating more neutrons, etc. This is called a chain reaction, and if there is enough Pu239 you get a runaway process, which is what powers an atomic (fission) bomb.

However, not all isotopes of Pu do this. Pu238, for example, won't. Although it can split, the products of this fission (called the daughters of the fission) just don't have the right characteristics to create a chain reaction, let alone a runaway process. In other words, the Pu238 aboard Galileo is simply not capable of exploding like a bomb.
Hoagland: Van der Worp had argued that in Jupiter’s dense, high-pressure atmosphere, the creation of an implosion in Galileo’s plutonium capsules was almost naturally assured … without any complex high-tech explosive triggers or ancillary mechanisms. He had written:
“…The plutonium pellets aboard are protected against unexpected pressures (not Jupiter’s atmospheric pressures though). Since the craft will be traveling so fast (107,000+ mph), the pressure will increase suddenly. The upper crust of Jupiter’s atmosphere is gaseous hydrogen and helium about 600 to 700 miles thick (2% of the radius of the planet), followed by a more liquid substance of the two, and much further in, a more metal version (so it is guessed). At only 125 miles down the pressure is already 23 bars (Galileo would go from 1/2 bar to 23 bars in 4 seconds). If the craft is travelling at 107,000+ miles/hr, and the pellets (not the craft) last 20 seconds in Jupiter’s hostile atmosphere before imploding, they would have travelled approximately 500-600 miles inward if one accounts for the craft slowing down after entry. This is about the thickness of the more gaseous part of the atmosphere (this is assuming a perpendicular entry). At this point, the pressure would be in the thousands of bars because the increase is exponential, not to mention the temperatures generated at this speed would be tremendous.”

From This link (http://www.ieer.org/fctsheet/pu-props.html) provided by the Bad Astronomer; The even isotopes, plutonium-238, -240, and -242 are not fissile but yet are fissionable--that is, they can only be split by high energy neutrons. Generally, fissionable but non-fissile isotopes cannot sustain chain reactions; plutonium-240 is an exception to that rule.

Once again, there would be no chain reaction because Pu238 is not fissile.

Anyway, why stop at 600 miles (960km) inward? Jupiter has a radius of 71,000 km. Surely eventually something will happen as the pressure increases? Nope; Pu238 would never go critical.


Hoagland The simultaneous detonation of over 40 lbs of plutonium-238, over 700 miles below Jupiter’s cloud tops, instantly creates a superheated “bubble” of “million-degree plasma” deep inside Jupiter, tens miles across.
Badastronomer: The other reason this won't work is that the fission trigger explosion has to be set up in such a way that the sequence of events described above works in a very specific manner. On Galileo, it simply won't work that way. The RTGs extend along a long boom, a rod that extends out from the main body of the spacecraft, and not in a way that works as a fission trigger. The geometry is all wrong.
The RTGs are not in anything like the geometry of a fission bomb. This is more obfuscation on the part of the doomsayers. Also, the YOWUSA folks, when quoting Goliathan, appear to think that somehow the pressure from the passage of Galileo through Jupiter's atmosphere will compress the plutonium enough to start a chain reaction, which will then trigger fusion. But the fission has to happen with precise timing, and in a certain geometry. How do they propose that will happen, exactly, with Galileo tumbling down into Jupiter, parts of it flying off due to the heat and pressure of supersonic atmospheric entry? They somehow conveniently left that part off of their description.

At least Hoagland doesn’t imagine that one tiny bomb, far smaller than Hiroshima,, would increase Jupiter’s internal pressure so much that Deuterium would start to fuse; the King of planets would need to be 13 times as big as it actually is to achieve that state.

Hoagland: A far more serious objection is that the nuclear fuel Galileo carried – plutonium-238 – while ideal as a sustained heat source for making electricity via thermoelectric technology, is NOT traditionally viewed as a fissionable material appropriate for creating nuclear explosions. The plutonium isotope vastly preferred for the original “Fat Man” weapon was plutonium-239 – which, by not emitting an excess of neutrons prior to achieving supercriticality, allowed the construction of an actual implosion plutonium weapon.
However, a little-known US nuclear weapons test, carried out underground at the Atomic Energy Commission’s Nevada test site (now operated by the Department of Energy), demonstrated in 1962 that “reactor-grade” plutonium – a mix of isotopes, including plutonium-238 – could be successfully imploded.

From the link Hoagland himself provided; The test confirmed that reactor-grade plutonium could be used to make a nuclear explosive…Prior to the 1970's, there were only two terms in use to define plutonium grades: weapon-grade (no more than 7 percent Pu-240) and reactor-grade (greater than 7 percent Pu-240). In the early 1970's, the term fuel-grade (approximately 7 percent to 19 percent Pu-240) came into use, which shifted the reactor-grade definition 19 percent or greater Pu-240.

So. No mention of the irrelevant Pu238.

Hoagland: because of the extended Galileo mission, and the pre-production of the plutonium-238 fuel capsules before its launch (coupled with their unique design – which incorporated a layering of neutron-emitting uranium-234 into their construction), long-term creation of significant quantities of highly fissionable plutonium-239 across the fifteen years since the mission was launched cannot be ruled out of the eventual Galileo plutonium ceramics … by the time they were deliberately plunged into Jupiter.

Badastronomer: Now, J.C. Goliathan, one of the main proponents of this "Jupiter ignition" idea, says that Pu238 can turn into Pu239, and that there is now Pu239 on Galileo. However, he does this without the benefit of such things as facts, truth, any idea what he is talking about, etc. He says:
Of course, Pu-239 is very fissile and capable of a sustained reaction. In fact, it is the key component of most nuclear bombs. Since Galileo was launched in 1989, we know that its Pu-238 will have been sitting in the RTG reactors for at least 15 years by September 2003, maybe longer if the fuel cells were created beforehand. In an analysis of whether the fuel cylinders contain fissionable as well as fissile elements, we have to conclude that it is very possible.

Why should we conclude that? Because Goliathan says so? He is quite wrong. He quotes this website, which says that Pu238 can become Pu239 through neutron capture. However, I have not found one single credible source that corroborates this statement. In fact, that website appears to be a personal site, not something from, say, experts in the field of radioactivity. Of course, what I am writing is on a personal site, but I have links to good sources (see the bottom of this page for those links).
Even if Pu238 could catch a neutron and become Pu239, where would the neutrons come from? He seems to think that since Jupiter's environment is radioactive, there are neutrons there. However, again, this is wrong.
You see? I think the owner of this website has answered Hoagland's points very well.

2003-Nov-13, 12:51 PM
Can anyone provide a link to the latest pictures of the dark spots?
whatever the cause I think they warrent investigation. Lets not let
Woo Woo's destract us from looking at what could be "something wonderful"

2003-Nov-13, 07:54 PM
Yah, point taken, Ebu, but I was kind hoping for a Cliff's Notes version. :lol:

Although your version is so much more colorful...love those tasteful earth tones...

[Martha Stewart begins to sweat bullets]


The Bad Astronomer
2003-Nov-13, 09:39 PM

I have received an email from someone claiming Pu-238 can be made to explode. I have done a very preliminary look into this, and he might be right. I will do more research and amend my page as needed.

This doesn't really weaken my main point much: even if it could be made to explode, the RTGs would fragment at the pressures of re-entry, dispersing the Pu, not compressing it.

Hat Monster
2003-Nov-13, 09:58 PM
Am I correct in assuming that the density of the Jovian envelope, even 1000km "down" won't be terribly great?
And that an explosion within the outer envelope would do nothing except stir a bit of gas up and accelerate it away from the explosion site?

Anyway. Galileo dropped a probe into Jupiter, there never was any solid intention of dropping Galileo into Jupiter (I believe they were just going to leave it there until it hit something) until Europa became an interesting place.
They could have nuked the site from orbit (heh) using a probe designed for atmospheric descent rather than a flimsy space probe.


2003-Nov-13, 10:04 PM
Speaking to your possibly very important point --

I took a look at my old physics textbook. You are right that in theory that any high-numbered isotope of plutonium could be made to go critical and chain react - but you would have to be bombarding the thing with neutrons from another source. But then it isn't really Pu-238 anymore...

2003-Nov-13, 11:02 PM
Am I correct in assuming that the density of the Jovian envelope, even 1000km "down" won't be terribly great?

Probably, but no matter what the ambient density is, there would have been some very dense air right in front of Galileo -- the pressure wave produced by the probe's very rapid atmospheric entry. ;)

2003-Nov-14, 03:27 AM
One question Hoagland asks is "Why the internet is not flooded with pictures of this phenomena, especially from the HST?" My guess is that the spot was to short lived for HST or any pro observatories to change their schedules to see it, and most ameatures probablly were unable to image it.

2003-Nov-14, 06:37 AM
I am willing to wager good money that it was a small impact of another object, a small comet or asteroid. I suppose it could be some sort of flux from Io transported to the Jovian surface... I wonder if the CMEs could have any effect.

I highly doubt that the Pu could explode and cause a fusion. Without getting into the details (which are freely available elsewhere), here is how a fusion bomb works. the Pu is rather pure and arranged in a hollow fashion because of its propensity to go critical if left in a single uniform or contiguous mass. At detonation it is compressed inward at a high speed causing it not to go critical, but supercritical. At the same time Tritium is injected to boost the neutron count (that step is a multiplier needed to reach fusion burn, but not for fission explosion alone). If contaminated Tritium or other neutron robbing element is present it will actually reduce the neutron count and drive down the explosive yield.

Even if it were to fission properly and get hot enough, the fusion package is linked not just by heat, but by geometry. The x-rays (if I remember correctly) reflect within the shell so fast that the shell has not had time to blow apart from the fission explosion. Mechanical linkages between the primary and the secondary flash to plasma and drive inwards towards the secondary core (which is lithium deuteride, not regular protium hydrogen and definately not helium) where temperatures AND pressures are high enough to cause miniscule fusion. I say miniscule because, while it is a big explosion to us, it's not a huge rate of actual fusion activity (E=mc^2). The detonation is over as fast as it started... all that is left is the distribution of the energy that had already been created. Even a full fledged H-bomb would not created additional fusion in the jovian atmosphere, it would just make a hole a few dozen to a hundred miles at the most. Although fluid dynamics might make the blast area appear larger by fallout distribution.

Fusion bombs we are familiar with almost always have a uranium shield that absorbs the neutron count for a tertiary (fission) explosion. This accounts for a significant portion of the explosive yield of multi-stage thermonuclear weapons. Without the external uranium shell, the yield would be lower, neutron radiation would be much higher and we call these designs neutron bombs.

Even these highly technical designs can't be stable forever. With a half-life of a dozen years or so, tritium needs to be replaced and filtered or it would actually poison the process. That is the reason why many nuclear powers conduct underground testing. It may be saber-rattling but it's mostly just to make sure the darn things work. We hear about it when they work, I doubt we hear when they don't. If we had the data on fizzles, it might help determine how tolerant the designs are. But based on current information on fission processes, it is unlikely that non-weapons grade material in a wide structural array without anything resembling a geometric focusing system could cause a nuclear excursion, much less a nuclear fission explosion. And it won't fuse anything.

If the material in one of Gallileo's reactors did experience the start of a chain reaction it would blow itself apart before it could ever come under enough external pressure to explode with any efficiency. Remember, the bomb detonation timeframes are measured in shakes, or billionths of a second. I don't think atmospheric injection at the velocity of Gallileo could achieve a high enough speed to balance heat and pressure at the required geometries.

'nuff said

2003-Nov-14, 07:54 AM
Why hasn't there been any new news or pics of the spot??

2003-Nov-14, 10:49 AM
Does anyone here have the time/ability to get a good look at jupiter and let us know if the spot is still there?

Alex W.
2003-Nov-14, 10:54 AM
The upper crust of Jupiter’s atmosphere

A very aloof planet, is it?

2003-Nov-14, 11:17 AM
The upper crust of Jupiter’s atmosphere

A very aloof planet, is it?

Born with a silver probe in it's mouth :lol: