Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Hooked on Mars...
Here's where it is in the sky this morning, seen from our West Coast.
And here it is, seen much closer. Olympus Mons, the solar system's largest old volcano, is almost dead center on it.
And this is a neat shot of sunrise on Phobos this morning, with the rest of the galaxy in the background.
Here's some interesting numbers. These are the diameters of these bodies.
Our Moon: 3,474.8 Km. - Mars: 6,779 Km. - Earth: 12,742 Km., and as you've noticed, each succeeding one is about twice the previous. Interesting.
If we could put our Moon back into Mars, and then restore the other missing surface features and oceans, and atmosphere, we'd have a sister Earth. And I hear you asking "What do you mean "back into Mars"?" Ok - if you look at that big ragged scar or 'canyon' or 'rift' across Mars for about 5,000 Km., just below its equator, and if we could open that into a circular hole (I'm tempted to say 'once again') then our Moon could probably pass through it - and perhaps once did, right after that meteoroid hit it, over 3.5 billion years ago. Their calculated mean densities are almost the same. More the same than any other terrestrial bodies in the system. And there's a reason for everything.....
And here's the Moon this morning. (The other part of Mars? I wonder...)
The experts have now accepted the fact that Mars was once warmer and wetter than now. But they still aren't talking a whole lot about how Mars, formed as it was from the same cloud of protoplanetary materials as Earth, could somehow develop into such a vastly different planet, unless it suffered some horrendous disaster.
When Earth and Mars were much younger, they were both probably closer to the sun, and therefore Mars would not be located as now on the outer fringe of the habitable zone. Earth back then was probably tropical or semi-tropical all over, and Mars would probably have been much more like Earth is today - quite warm and cosy. And then along came that meteoroid, variously speculated as being between the size of one or two hundred kilometers in diameter up to possibly the size of Pluto. And it hit Mars near its equator, puncturing its crust. I won't do an "instant replay" on the Big Bang that resulted. The point I'm sneaking up on here is that solar systems and atoms probably react the same ways when confronted with the sudden addition of mass and energy into the system.
Those cute little flying parts called variously "electrons" or "planets" whizzing around the nucleus have to re-adjust their orbits to accommodate that increased mass and energy. And let's remember Uncle Albert and his theory: mass is synonymous with energy and vice-versa under the right conditions. So when that strange foreign object came flying in, adding mass and energy to our system, the existing little flying objects had to re-adjust their orbits slightly, and that meant increasing those orbits to a "higher shell" or larger orbit, further from the nucleus or "sun" in this case. In other words, our solar system at that point became like an excited atom, and things changed forever. Are we an "excited atom"? I don't know, but the evidence suggests the answer may be "yes". Perhaps an ionized oxygen atom. The next nearest stuff being a binary. As in H2O, perhaps. Is this getting a little too "out there"? Maybe.... again, I don't know yet. But I wish....