Monday, June 09, 2014

Wanderlust: A bum rush!

Solid bodies in the Solar System are relatively few; IMO the inner planets, asteroids, comets, and a few satellites around the Gas Giants. To the best of my knowledge, asteroids & comets lack an atmosphere - and are pock-marked to the extreme.

Out of Mars, Earth, Venus & Mercury - Mercury's atmosphere is ... mercurial, the Venerean atmosphere is lush in the extreme. Mars has a thin atmosphere, whereas Earth's is (for us humans, and a few other species) just right.

Of these 4 terrestrial planets, Earth has the greatest escape velocity at 11.2 km/s followed closely by Venus 10.3km/s, Mars 5km/s, and finally Mercury 4.3km/s.

At it's closest, Venus is around 38 Million km from Earth. Mars is around 54.6 million kilometers in it's turn.

No body is immune to impact by other bodies. Earth too is no stranger to body-play; Micro-micro meteorites accumulate by the giga-ton annually in the form of dust. Larger impact bodies such as the Chicxulub capable of delivering several as much as 100 Teratons equivalent of TNT are also out there - but less frequent. As many as 132 meteorites found on Earth are identified as of Martian origin.

On October 17, 2013, NASA reported, based on analysis of argon in the Martian atmosphere by the Mars Curiosity rover, that certain meteorites found on Earth thought to be from Mars were actually from Mars.

Back in the 1960s/70s, Project Orion was a theoretical study on a nuclear pulse propelled space-ship. Several devices being flung out opposite to the desired direction of thrust. Each device imparting an absurdly humongous specific impulse on detonation.

What I therefore find myself wondering

  1. How large would the impact have been on Mars to impart escape velocity to the rocks that eventually turned up on Earth?
  2. Even given the turbulent environment on Mars, is there a possibility one of the impact craters - the source of an eventual martian meteorite, may be discovered by one of the missions presently on/under-way to Mars?
  3. Is there a probability of discovering a Venerean meteorite here on Earth?
  4. Could Chicxulub, or a comparable impact may have dislodged a rock and sent it to Mars, or Venus?



J Clarkin said...

Ever ponder on whether such a planetary cross-polination (panspermia) may be the origin of active life on our globe?

Unknown said...

Panspermia may be a possibility. The hitch, in my mind, is the bio-chemistry involved across planets.