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FORUM

Could Mars Have Been an Inner Planet?
 by Lynn Rose

I will suggest a hypothesis concerning the orbit of Mars before its encounters with Venus and Earth.  The hypothesis should be checked against both historical data and current theory and observation.

The historical material relating to the early status of Mars is summarized by Velikovsky (Worlds in Collision, p. 244) as follows:

Mars did not arouse any fears in the hearts of the ancient astrologers, and its name was seldom mentioned in the second millennium .... But in the ninth or eighth century before this era, the situation changed radically.  Mars became the dreaded planet.

Velikovsky does not attempt to describe the orbit of Mars 3000 years ago, before its near collisions with Venus and the Earth.  But the Martian orbit at that time probably did not cross the orbit of the Earth, or even come close to crossing it, since such a Mars would have evoked periodic fear.

Nor is it likely that Mars was an outer planet, since it could then hardly have played a role in the final taming of Venus.  Venus, between its near collisions with the Earth and its near collisions with Mars, was on an orbit of greatly reduced ellipticity that probably never took it much outside the orbit of the Earth.  So there would have been no chance for Venus to collide with Mars, if the Martian orbit already lay well outside the orbit of the Earth.

We are left with the hypothesis that Mars 3000 years ago was an inner planet.

Velikovsky has indicated several ways in which some of the angular momentum of Venus could have been dissipated without being transferred to Mars: some could have been transferred to Venus' trailing debris and gases that were separated off during these near collisions, and some could have been transferred electrically or magnetically to the interplanetary medium.  But the main recipient of any angular momentum lost by Venus during the ninth and eighth centuries was still probably Mars.  Certain careless readers to the contrary, such a close encounter would not need to result in Mars' ejection from the solar system.  Velikovsky did not say what Mars' orbit was before the eighth century Theomachy ("battle of planetary gods").  His own phrase is that Mars was "thrown out of the ring" in its contests with Venus: this might only entail that the Martian orbit was quite larger after the near collisions with Venus than before.

If Mars was indeed an inner planet before its contact with Venus, its orbit was most likely highly elliptical after that contact: at aphelion Mars would have been well outside the orbit of the Earth, and at perihelion Mars would have been back inside the orbit of the Earth, near the site of its most recent encounter with Venus.  There would suddenly be a danger of near collision between the Earth and Mars, and Velikovsky has shown that such near collisions did indeed occur some 27 centuries ago, and that they were a major factor in Mars' eventual arrival at its present orbit.  If my own suggestion is correct, we should regard the Earth's principal role in this process as that of greatly reducing the eccentricity of the orbit pursued by Mars so that Mars, like Venus before it, ceased to be a further threat to the Earth.

Several authors came to the conclusion, either on theoretical grounds or upon observation provided by Mars probes starting with Mariner IV, that Mars was disturbed on its path.  Figuring the distribution of mass and angular momentum in the solar system, some researchers calculated an axial rotation of eight hours for Mars, whereas now Mars rotates in slightly over 24 hours. (Hartmann and Larson, Icarus, 7, 1967, 257-260.) "Mars ... either must have lost considerable angular momentum or never possessed the initial angular momentum that would be inferred."  "The means by which Mars could have decelerated presents a problem." (F. F. Fish, Icarus, 7 [19671, 251-6.)  Fault patterns were observed on the surface of Mars. (Binder, Science, 152 [1966], 1053-1055.)  "A change of rotation may provide the stresses which produced them." (Hartmann and Larson, op. cit.)

Thus, through the disturbances that occurred, Mars seems to have lost much of its axial angular momentum, but to have gained much more in orbital angular momentum.

PENSEE Journal I

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