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HORUS VOL I. Issue 1

Rocks From Where?
by Alex Marton

You mean we didn't have to go to the Moon? Or to send probes to Mars to get them?

An article in the 17 March, 1983 issue of the British magazine New Scientist announces in its title: Extraterrestrials have landed on Antarctica. Before 1969, all the expeditions to Antarctica had together found only four meteorites. Then, in December 1969, Japanese scientists stumbled upon nine black fragments within a short distance from each other.

After studies of these finds were reported at a meeting of the Meteoritical Society in Davos, Switzerland, in August 1973, excitement gripped the Antarctic scientific community, and many more finds have come to fight since then. Among them, one meteorite stands out: ALHA81005. The reason it is unique among Antarctic meteorites is that it is suspected of coming from the Moon. From the time of its discovery in January, 1982, it was obvious that this specimen differed from any others found in the area.

When a thin slice was examined under a microscope at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, striking similarities were noticed between ALHA81005 and lunar highland breccias. Analytical results show that the calcium, magnesium, and iron silicates have ratios of iron to manganese oxides that are typically lunar. These minerals are embedded in white fragments of calcium and aluminum-rich rocks like the ones that make up most of the crust in the lunar highlands and give it the characteristic color we see from Earth.

The lunar ratios are quite different from those found in typical meteorites. The quantities and ratios of rare gases, rare earth elements, and oxygen isotopes also point to the sample as a lunar rock rather than a typical meteorite. The presence of a Moon rock on Earth presents the scientific establishment with a challenge of the highest order. The author of the New Scientist article, Dr. Ursula B. Marvin, states that in order to escape the Moon's gravitational field, an object has to be accelerated to a velocity in excess of 2.4 kilometers per second.

She indicates that the only force believed to be powerful enough to cause this to happen is the high-energy impact of a large asteroidal fragment on the surface. According to ballistics theory, she goes on, the only rocks that would be accelerated to escape velocity are deep-seated target rocks at ground zero, and aft material at ground zero would be melted to glass by the shock. Unfortunately, sample ALHA81005 is neither deep-crust material nor shocked to glass, but is a mixture of the material typically found in the shallow lunar soils.

The dilemma posited by the article is that either: a) meteorite impact dynamics have to be totally re-examined, and possibly revamp the range of objects defined as meteorites; or b) this sample did not come from the Moon, but is so Moon-like that it presents us with a problem even more intriguing than the first one.

If this weren't bad enough, the possibility that a certain class of meteorites on Earth originated from Mars is positively distressing. The escape velocity from Mars is given as five kilometers per second, and it is postulated that "no target material should survive the shock pressures accompanying the requisite impact." Be that as it may, nine meteorites, one of them Antarctic sample EETA7900 1, are suspected to havecome from Mars. These strange rocks are known as "SNCs," meaning shergottites-nakhtites-chassignites, names derived from the locations where they were first found (Shergotty, India; Nakhla, Egypt; Chassigny, France).

The chemical and isotopic compositions of the SNCs are meteoritic rather than Earthlike, so they could not have escaped the Earth due to an impact and then fallen back. But they are also not Moon-like or asteroidal. If none of these bodies are the likely source, then what? Based on the estimated age of the rocks (1.3 x 109 years, too young for typical meteorites), and the fact that Mars is assumed to have been sufficiently hot recently to have produced igneous magmas, it was speculated that Mars might be a likely source.

In addition, Dr. Donald Bogard of the Johnson Space Center has found trapped in these meteorites noble gases similar to those of the Martian atmosphere analyzed by the Viking probes. There is by no means universal agreement; Ann Singer of the State University of New York favors an asteroidal origin, saying that "calculations of impact probabilities in the asteroid belt show that a few dozen times in the history of the solar system the proper sequence of impact, melting, slow cooling, and more impacts should have occurred (emphasis added)."

As far back as June 1980, a Scientific American article titled "Basaltic Meteorites" by H. Y. McSween and W. M. Stolper argued that a certain class of basaltic meteorite, the shergottite, was evidence of volcanic activity in its planet of origin, which was not the Earth. They felt that likely sources were the asteroids, Jupiter's satellite Io (which is known to be volcanic), or possibly other bodies. But their preference, based both on volcanism and on rock composition, is Mars. Their principal reservation is that the known mechanisms cannot provide these rocks with enough energy to escape the Martian orbit. If this were possible, they speculate, there ought to be also lunar meteorites on Earth, and of course, as of that writing, none were known. Indirectly, at any rate, this objection goes away.

The news about these rocks has been well covered. Articles or reports have appeared repeatedly in Science News. In Science Frontiers William R. Corliss routinely picks up these items, and contributes his own editorial commentary, generally partial to catastrophist interpretations. Based on the geochemical evidence, there is a lot of support for the proposition that these meteorites do come from the Moon and from Mars, and there is much excitement about the idea, as there should be. The problem is how to explain it, because prevailing notions of the probable mechanisms cannot reconcile the fact that the material suffered enough of an impact to be accelerated to the required escape velocity, but maintained its structure in spite of the shock. A more likely context, in a Velikovskian scenario, was provided by Ralph Juergens years before these meteorites were found and analyzed. [Pensee IX and X, 1974].

If some 2700 years ago the Moon and Mars participated in electromagnetic interactions of cosmic proportions, witnessed from Earth and preserved in myth and legend, many surface features of both bodies can be explained readily. Current theories about the origin of these scars are often strained, incomplete, or deal incongruously with the various parts of the puzzle. Based on the evidence marshaled by Velikovsky, it is likely that phenomenal plasma discharges took place between the Moon and Mars, with the Moon as the cathode and with Mars as the anode.

Given a close enough approach of the two bodies, and their interaction with the Earth's magnetosphere, the electric field between anode and cathode had to build to an intensity great enough to pull electrons away from the cathode. It is not the intent here to go into a detailed analysis of discharge phenomena, and how they might occur under the specific conditions of three (or four, including Venus) charged planetary bodies interacting with the additional variable of gravitational effects. But assuming that these close encounters were accompanied by local heating and volcanic activity, it is conceivable that, in addition to plasma discharge, chunks of solid or partially molten matter were ejected from the various bodies. Thus, the meteorites believed to have come from the Moon and from Mars would have escaped their original gravitational fields without suffering impact shock.

[*!* Image: ALHA81005,0]


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