A student in the Sc 179 course asked this question: "Are the scored moons of the Jovian planets and the tilted axis of Uranus evidences of catastrophic changes within our solar system following the creation?"
Dr. Samec: I think this is a very interesting question. It pertains to the bodies of the Jovian system as well as to the whole solar system. For many years people have asked similar questions as they looked at craters and other violent phenomena in the solar system. Let's view Uranus.
On the right, we see the visual image of Uranus (an optical image). And on the left, we see an image that has been constructed from Voyager data showing the rotational axis tipped, actually below the orbital plane of the planet and some 60 degrees away from the magnetic field. This certainly suggests that there was a violent event that took place here. Is it possible that there was a collision that caused this effect?
Here we see a depiction of a possible model. Suppose the core of Uranus was struck a glancing blow by a large dense minor planet. This could cause the axis of rotation to be deflected through a large angle while the magnetic field would be largely unchanged. Was this just a chance blow? Well, Neptune has the same problem. Its magnetic pole is 60 degrees away from its rotational axis also. The axis of Venus is tilted by 177 degrees making it rotate in the opposite or retrograde direction. Also we find evidence that the hard surfaced bodies or terrestrial bodies have been pulverized with craters. We all can see that one side of our moon is covered with craters and large lava filled basins called Mare that have long since hardened. All of this suggests possible impact by many large-sized asteroid bodies in the solar system. This is especially true for those worlds that have not been resurfaced by active geologic processes, like Io. Let's think about a few of the Jovian moons. The surface of Callisto is punctured with many holes much like those which a giant ice pick might produce! But the punctures are actually caused by asteroid collisions on its icy surface. Miranda is scored and cratered. Some scientists say that it was battered by a large asteroid and broke apart and then recollected itself into the strange world we see today. Europa also is covered with craters and cracks. Even little Mimas, one of Saturn's satellites, did not escape bombardment. It has a crater 1/3 its size. Even the Earth has such features. Although mostly eroded away, ghostly outlines of craters still can be seen from satellite photos.
Is it possible that the Solar System collided with a swarm of asteroids and cometary bodies? Was this possibly a trigger that God used to initiate the Noahic flood? Such a swarm could have caused the many impacts that we observe on planets and their moons. It may also be the cause of the chaotic tilts of Uranus and Venus. This is just an idea at this time that may or may not lead to viable models. Thank you for your intriguing question.