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Scientific Psychic
2008-06-27
 

Cataclysmic meteorite bombardment from Mars?

cataclysmic meteorite bombardment

The northern hemisphere of Mars has a giant basin, called the Borealis Basin, that covers about 40 percent of the surface of Mars. The basin is 8,500 km across and 10,600 km long, and it is larger than the combined area of Asia, Europe and Australia. The northern-hemisphere basin is one of the smoothest surfaces found in the solar system, whereas, the southern hemisphere is high, rough, heavily-cratered terrain that is 4 to 8 km higher in elevation than the basin floor.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project from NASA has provided some interesting information about the topography and gravity of Mars that has shed some light on the mystery of why the two halves of Mars are so different. MIT scientists have used the data to deduce that the basin was formed by the impact of a colossal asteroid[1,2]. The scientists also created models to calculate the kind of impact that would have been required to create the basin.

It is estimated that the impact on Mars occurred around 3,900 million years ago. This is the time when the Earth and the Moon were subjected to a cataclysmic meteorite bombardment, also called the Late Heavy Bombardment. It is possible that the debris of the great cosmic collision in Mars was the cause of the devastation of the Earth and the Moon during their early development.
Learn about the history of the Earth

[1] Jeffrey C. Andrews-Hanna, Maria T. Zuber, W. Bruce Banerdt, The Borealis basin and the origin of the martian crustal dichotomy, Nature 453, 1212 - 1215 (26 Jun 2008), doi: 10.1038/nature07011, Letters to Editor

[2] David Chandler, Solar system's biggest impact scar discovered, MIT News Office
June 25, 2008


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