There are a vast number of things that make life on planet Earth possible. We are all aware of some, while others escape most people’s knowledge. One thing that allows life to exist on Earth is our planet’s magnetic field.
All stars generate streams of radiation by the nature of their energy-producing systems, and our Sun is no exception. The solar wind is a constant threat to life on the Moon or Mars or in any spaceship traveling through the solar system. Studies show that Mars once had a magnetic field, but that field dissipated, leaving the surface sterile. The question for astronomers is why Earth didn’t suffer the same fate. Much of the answer to our planet’s magnetic field lies in Earth’s geology.
About 1800 miles below our feet, a liquid iron core generates our magnetic field. Recent research shows that there was a time in the distant past when Earth’s magnetic field was dissipating, but just as it reached its lowest point, it regenerated. Using various new wave detection tools, researchers have found evidence of what brought the magnetic field back.
Earth has four layers: (1) the crust where we live, (2) a thick layer called the mantle, (3) a molten outer core, and (4) A solid inner core. In the molten outer core, swirling liquid iron generates electric currents, driving a geodynamo that produces our planet’s magnetic field to protect us from the solar wind.
We can’t go to the Earth’s core to study these layers, but minerals that contain tiny magnetic particles rise to Earth’s surface. By examining the magnetic crystals in anorthosite rocks with a superconducting quantum interference magnetometer, researchers can see a historical record of Earth’s magnetic field. That field began to regenerate as the inner core started to grow, allowing Earth to retain the water so vital to life.
This new research helps scientists understand how Earth became a habitable planet. The implications for life on other planets are clear, and we can see that our planet is extraordinary. When we see the complexity of our planet, it takes more faith to believe that our existence is an accident than to believe it was planned and designed. The tools God used to prepare a place for life to thrive are far more complex and exceptional than anyone can understand when reading, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”
— John N. Clayton © 2022