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KRONOS Vol X, No. 3
THE SCARS OF MARS - I
DONALD W. PATTEN
This essay considers the physical geography of Mars. Parts I and II examine the craters of Mars. The commensurability of the sizes of these craters with the asteroids is noted. That 91% of these craters are in one hemisphere suggests that one single fragmentation of a smaller passing planet explains 82% of its craters. That there is a massive bulge, ringed with volcanism, 180 deg opposite to the largest of the Martian craters is indicative that this largest of all of the fragments, perhaps the core fragment, caused not only a crater 990 miles in diameter but also a bulge zone directly opposite to the hit site. Since the sizes of the craters, adjusted to the bolides, and the sizes of the asteroids are commensurate, it is pointed out that herein is the most likely explanation for the origin of most of the asteroids, fragments which narrowly missed Mars. Two of these fragments, Deimos and Phobos, trabants of Mars, also appear to be relics of this ancient fragmentation.
Part III will consider the ancient river beds of Mars, river beds on a planet that has never had a climate in the sense of interacting oceans and atmospheres. The apparent velocity of those ancient rivers will be noted and compared to velocities of the much slower Earth rivers. And this is to be noted in light of the fact that Mars has hardly 11% of the mass of Earth, and a much weaker gravitational field.
In both respects, the craters of Mars and the rivers of Mars, reasons shall be marshalled to illustrate that, formerly, Mars had a much different orbit. What the characteristics of that ancient orbit were shall be considered along with implications therein which bear upon Earth's history.
For at least a century, it has been speculated that some relatively small planet at one time fragmented in the region between Jupiter and Mars. For example, Struve and Zebergs write as follows:
And Pickering writes as follows:
Moore and Hunt write as follows:
Thus we see divided opinion on the origin of the asteroids, of which about 2750 have been found and named. Opinions seem to reflect on the various astronomers' notions of the origin of the solar system. And opinions are divided as to if they gathered or accreted as dew might on ice, or whether they were the results of a "collision". If they are the debris left over from a collision, what planetary body could possibly cause such a collision? Inbred into the psyche of most astronomers is the notion that Mars has been in its present orbit for billions of years while the asteroids seem to be relatively young. In this essay we shall first discard the notion, or assumption, that Mars has been in its current orbit for billions of years, or even for tens of thousands of years. Figure 1 shows our idea of the kind of orbit which Mars had some 10,000 or 20,000 years ago.
In such an orbit, Mars would recede into the area near the perihelion of most of the asteroids. The ten largest asteroids have perihelions that average 240,000,000 miles from the Sun.
One major concept in this paper is (1) that Mars in another orbit caused the fragmentation of a former smaller planet into the current asteroids. It was the gravitational force not of Jupiter (as Moore and Hunt suggest) but rather of Mars which caused Astra to fragment into asteroids.
A secondary concept implicit in this paper is (2) that Mars' former orbit was considerably more eccentric than its current orbit. And our ability to conceive this goes along with our rejection of the idea of planets or planetesimals accreting over billions of years as a viable theory for the genesis of any planet. Perhaps another catastrophic cosmology for the origins of the planets is needed.
[*!* Image] PROPOSED ANCIENT ORBITS OF EARTH AND MARS.
LABELS: Mars' aphelion; Mars' perihelion; Mars' ancient orbit; Earth's ancient orbit.
And a third concept implicit in this paper is (3) that Mars in its former orbit had the potential to interact catastrophically with the Earth-Moon system since its perihelion was within Earth's orbit. The first concept, gathering evidence that Mars caused the fragmentation of a minor planet, will be discussed herein. The second and third concepts, implicit and important though they may be, are not developed in this section. In Part III, these Earth-related issues will be treated.
Thirteen levels of support shall be cited to support this new, and perhaps radical idea . . . new because others have not conceived of or written about a Mars-Astra catastrophe . . . radical because traditional cosmologies suppose millions, if not billions, of years ago for events like this. We propose less than 15,000 years ago at the outside and, more likely, less than 10,000 years ago was the timing.
Thirteen levels of support are as follows:
If it can be demonstrated that Mars was the sole cause for Astra's fragmentation, then Mars - being in a former orbit with higher eccentricity and a more remote aphelion - is a demand deduction. A second demand deduction, also, is that the former perihelion of Mars was nearer to the Sun than the present perihelion. Figure 1 models our understanding of Mars' ancient orbit.
I. TIDAL DISTORTION AND ROCHE'S LIMIT
Planets and the larger satellites are not rigid bodies. They have crusts and fluid, magma interiors, and they respond to gravitational forces according to certain formulas. In 1850, Edouard Roche recognized the nature of tidal stress versus the cohesive forces of a planet. He found that, for planets (and for larger satellites which are nonrigid) if they were to be on a collision course, the tidal forces suddenly coming into play would exceed the cohesive forces BEFORE impacting. Fragmentation of the smaller would precede impacting.
Further, he stated that the critical distance of fragmentation is 2.44 radii from the center of the larger. Roche assumed both bodies had identical densities, and circular orbits. In fact, circular orbits do not exist in nature, and densities of planets do vary; none are identical.
Sir George Darwin later refined Roche's study, and made the conclusion that 2.4554 was the critical distance of fragmentation. More recently, Loren Steinhauer (1972) researched this issue and came to the conclusion that a distance of 2.45 is conservative and a distance of 2.5 to 2.6 radii is more likely.(4)
Also, we do not have data on the densities of the asteroids, but it is likely that Mars has a greater density. The densities of certain planets and satellites in our solar system are as follows:
Today Mars has an equatorial diameter of 4222 miles, and a radius of 2111 miles. For reasons to be presented later, it is proposed that before the fragmentation of Astra into the asteroids, Mars had a slightly smaller diameter, approximately 4198 miles, and a radius of about 2099 miles.
For reasons to be developed later, it is proposed that Astra had a diameter of no less than 1250 miles, and a radius of no less than 625 miles. Figure 2 gives the geometry of these two planets in a fatal flyby scene at the moment of fragmentation. We are using a figure of 2.76 for Roche's Limit, and this assumes Astra's density was in the range of 3.0 and significantly less than Mars' density.
[*!* Image] DISTANCES OF ASTRA AND MARS AT MOMENT OF ASTRA'S FRAGMENTATION>
We are suggesting Astra's diameter at 1250 miles or slightly larger. This compares to the diameters of other solar system bodies as follows:
Thus it is proposed that Astra was very much like the planet Pluto in size, but it was more like Jupiter's Europa in density at about 3.0.
II. SIZE COMPARISONS OF MARTIAN CRATERS AND ASTEROIDS
A study of the sizes of the larger Martian craters has been made. This study assumes, perhaps too conservatively, that the size of an impact asteroid hitting Mars was 90% of the size of the crater in diameter. It is possible that percentages of 80% and 85% can be defended, and if so, such would adjust details of this study accordingly.
THE SIZES OF THE MAJOR MARTIAN CRATERS
A commensurability occurs in the known sizes of the 15 largest asteroids when compared to the sizes of the 15 largest impact asteroids hitting Mars.
THE SIZES OF THE LARGEST CURRENT ASTEROIDS
The sizes of the current asteroids and the impact asteroids are estimated as follows for commensurability (Figure 3):
[*!* Image] Figure 3. COMPARISON OF DIAMETERS OF (1) Astra (2) Largest Impact Asteroids (3) Largest Current Asteroids.
Also, if we consider volume, the commensurability is as follows:
Thus it would seem that of the components of Astra, in number, about one-half became impact asteroids, hitting Mars. As asteroids, one-half missed Mars and proceeded to assume a variety of other orbits. But in volume, about one-third of the mass of Astra was in the core, Hellas, and another third was in impact asteroids, and yet another third was in Mars-missing asteroids, which we see as current asteroids.
On this basis it is concluded that Astra had a diameter of somewhere between 1250 and 1300 miles, quite like Pluto with an estimated diameter of 1500 miles. Astra was significantly smaller than the Moon. And its distance was in the range of 205,000,000 miles from the Sun at the moment of its fatal flyby with Mars.
Figure 4 illustrates a concept of the location of the fragments as Astra broke up. Hellas was the core. Argyre was ahead of the core and impacted Mars 2 or 3 minutes earlier and to the west of the center of the impact area. Huygens was to the north and west of the core; Isidis was to the north and east, and very nearly missed Mars. just hitting on the rim of the Hemisphere of Craters. Pallas, Vesta, and Ceres missed Mars, whether to the north or to the south. (Figure 4 suggests to the north but this is subject to dispute.) Phobos and Deimos probably were ejected rearward as Astra approached Mars, gaining a motion opposite to Astra's approach trajectory, allowing their capture by Mars.
It may be properly questioned if, among the 15 largest of the Martian craters, any of them are in the Opposite Hemisphere. No, they are all in the same hemisphere.
Also, it may be asked why we have suggested an ancient diameter of 4198 miles for Mars rather than the current 4222.
[*!* Image] ILLUSTRATED FRAGMENTATION OF ASTRA INTO ASTEROIDS
The answer to that is that during this catastrophic event, with Hellas, Isidis, Argyre and over 2700 other fragments impacting Mars, arriving at velocities in the range of 100 miles per minute, over a span of some 25 minutes, all increased the mass of Mars perhaps 1.5%. Such calls for an expansion for the equatorial bulge as shall be discussed shortly.
III. THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE CRATERS ON MARS
On the heavily-cratered Mercury, the craters are rather equally distributed in both hemispheres, and this is also true for the Moon. Interestingly, the craters on Mars are not widely or evenly distributed in both hemispheres. Figure 5 illustrates the fact that 91% of all of the craters, 20 miles in diameter or larger, are in one hemisphere. The "Hemisphere of Craters" is centered at Latitude 45 deg S. and at Longitude 319 deg W. This hemisphere is termed "The Hemisphere of Craters" and its opposite hemisphere is termed "The Opposite Hemisphere". The Opposite Hemisphere is centered at 45 deg N. Lat. and 51 deg W. Long. Figure 5 also illustrates the Hemisphere of Craters.
A count has been made of the craters, 20 miles and larger in diameter, on Mars. Table III comprises the result.
COUNT OF CRATERS 20 MILES OR LARGER IN DIAMETER ON MARS
**Region is entirely within Hemisphere of Craters
[*!* Image] MARS' HEMISPHERE OF CRATERS
Thus it is concluded as follows:
It is to be noted that all 15 of the largest craters of Mars are in the Hemisphere of Craters. It is also to be noted that the massive lava outflows of Argyre, Hellas, and Isidis undoubtedly have overflowed and occluded a certain, significant number of craters. Thus our figure of 3068 craters, 20 miles and larger in diameter, has been masked by these lava outflows; the original figure was even larger before lava outflowing and before larger craters occluded some smaller ones. These three lava outflows cover 7% of the Hemisphere of Craters.
Thus, if there is a shift from our Table III, it will probably be in the direction of an even greater extreme. And the 9% proportion of the craters in the Opposite Hemisphere may be, in fact, too large for the original crater scenery or situation, if one allows that 7% of the original craters were flooded with lava.
IV. OTHER GEOGRAPHICAL PATTERNS OF THE MARTIAN CRATERS
1. The first and primary pattern to be observed is the aforementioned Hemisphere of Craters versus the Opposite Hemisphere, a dramatically different type of scenery.(5)
2. SCATTERSHOT PATTERN: In the Hemisphere of Craters, like on Mercury, the pattern is a scattershot pattern, which is to say that the pattern is "patternless" or random. And this is the second primary pattern.
3. THE RIMMING OF LARGER CRATERS BY SMALLER CRATERS: If one examines the map of Mars, grid section by grid section, at first it may escape observation, but on a second or third examination, it may be noticed that there is an exceptional density of small, 2-10 mile in diameter craters, on the rims of a surprising number of the larger craters. Kaiser has about a dozen. Secchi with seven rim craters is another excellent example, as is Cassini with five. What might this mean? Perhaps the smaller fragments were experiencing a richochet effect, bouncing off the larger ones but remaining near at hand.
4. A MASKED RADIAL PATTERN: Again, if one examines the map of Mars, grid by grid, and establishes a frame of reference, AND if one recognizes the location 45 deg S. and 319 deg W. for being the subpoint under Astra, the centerpoint of the Hemisphere of Craters, then one may detect a masked pattern of the craters in an arc or arcuate pattern with the center of the arc being the subpoint. Craters on the rim of the Hemisphere of Craters are an excellent example. Other examples occur in the Denning to Kaiser sequence, 325 deg to 340 deg W. Longitude and 18 deg to 47 deg S. Latitude. Another series is Proctor at 330 deg W. and 48 deg S. and the arcuate series to the north.
At a distance of 205,000,000 miles from the Sun, a planet such as Astra, or a contemporary asteroid, will be revolving at a rate of about 6,000 miles per hour in orbit around the Sun. Also, the motion of Mars is a second factor to be considered, but coincidentally it is thought that the fragments of Astra approached Mars at a rate of about 6,000 m.p.h. or 100 miles per minute. With reference to Figure 2, the impacting of asteroids began in about 30 to 35 minutes from the moment of fragmenting, and it was all over in another 25 minutes, except for certain other aftermath issues which will be shortly discussed. Thus, the time for torture of the crust of Mars was only 55 to 60 minutes in duration. Initial pressure and shock waves within Mars may have lasted another 15 to 30 minutes, but still the time of torture was less than 2 hours for Mars.
When did this catastrophe occur? Traditionally, astronomical essays genuflect to the nebular hypothesis principle, of a 4 to 5 billion year ago genesis of the solar system, and then proceed with a discussion. In this essay, we do not know the lapse of time from fragmentation until the present, but there are some indications of it being less than 15,000 years ago. These indications will be reserved for another essay. Either way, a study of the drifting of dust into (and out of) the craters of Mars, especially the rates of dust drifting along with the volumes, should give an indication of the timing of the Astra-Mars event.
One thing is clear, and that is that there has been a subsequent watery catastrophe for Mars; and the former rivers, forming channels, indicate a much more rapid water flow rate than for rain-fed rivers on the Earth. And, that watery event appears to have been later as the channels appear to be superimposed on the cratered physical geography.
Also, two other suspicions need to be stated, as suspicions and not facts. One is that, at the time of Astra's fragmentation, Mars had a satellite something like the satellites of Saturn and Uranus in size 500 to 800 miles in diameter - and composed of ice, like some of the satellites of Saturn and Jupiter. This "Frosty" satellite, we suggest, was impacted somewhat also by fragments of Astra; AND Astra had a high proportion of iridium, which was deposited on both the crust of Mars and its ancient frosty or icy satellite. The subsequent fragmenting of the "Frosty" satellite may have something to do with the channels on Mars, and it may have something to do with the high iridium concentrate in the sub-sea level deep-ice deposit on Antarctic bedrock. This is to suggest that there was a subsequent, and very severe Earth-Moon interaction with the Mars-Frosty system, as Figure 1 suggests.
V. A COMPARISON OF THE NUMBER OF ASTEROIDS AND
THE MARTIAN CRATERS
In 1983, there were 2,736 asteroids which were identified and logged.(6) These are of course only the largest. Based on the pitlets of some of the asteroids and on Deimos and Phobos, Mars' two satellites, there must have been much debris too small to see in telescopes, or to record in telescope photography.
In Table III, we found 3068 20-mile or larger craters in the Martian Hemisphere of Craters, and only 292 in the Opposite Hemisphere. Let us assume that, in previous and subsequent time, another 292 hit the Hemisphere of Craters. This leaves a count of 2776 which may be attributed to Astra, plus any which have been covered or masked by subsequent lava outflows, erosion, or by subsequent watery or icy catastrophes, etc.
It was found that the sizes of the largest current asteroids and the largest impact asteroids were commensurate. Now we also find that the number of identified asteroids (2736) and the number of Astra 20-mile craters (2776) are also commensurate. Perhaps this is because we can telescopically and photographically record, at our distances of the asteroids, only those down to about 15 or 20 miles in diameter. At any rate, we find a commensurability in both size and in number, whether this be coincidence or not.
We have examined the physical geography of the Hemisphere of Craters in some depth, but that is only half of Mars. And is that also only half of the catastrophic scenario for Mars? It appears that the Opposite Hemisphere also has a strong tale of catastrophic woe to reveal or teach, judging from the evidence.
. . . to be continued.
l . Struve, Otto and Velta Zebergs, Astronomy of the 20th Century (New York, 1962), p. 179.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS : Editorial work on this manuscript has been supplied by Lynn E. Rose, Professor of Philosophy, SUNY-Buffalo. Consultants on the manuscript have included Dwardu Cardona, Senior Editor of KRONOS (Vancouver, B.C.) and Ron Hatch, Magnavox Research Laboratory (Torrance, CA).