Possibility of Self-Sustaining Bombardment of Inner Planets
The great strengthening the material undergoes under high confining pressure, and jet pattern of matter outflowing from large impact craters make possible the ejection of asteroid-size bodies from the Earth into space. The ejected bodies, after gaining energy in planetary perturbations, may fall back with a velocity higher than that of their ejection. This solves, in particular, the problem of shower bombardments with ~ 25 Myr interval (Drobyshevski, Sov. Astron. Let. 16(3), 193, 1990), and a question arises whether this process could become self-sustained, like a chain reaction, when secondary impacts release an energy higher than that of primary impact. Estimates show that such a possibility could have been realized for Mercury (Drobyshevski, Lunar Planet. Sci. Conf. Abstr. 23(1), 317, 1992) due to its low escape and high orbital velocities. Self-sustained bombardment can account for the loss of the silicate mantle from Mercury. The energy and angular momentum conservation laws imply that its orbit contracted toward the Sun in the course of ejection of the mantle fragments by Mercury’s perturbations beyond its orbit. Straightforward calculations show the initial orbit to have practically coincided with the Venusian orbit. This puts the old hypothesis of Mercury being a lost satellite of Venus on a solid ground and provides an explanation for many facts from the origin of the Imbrium bombardment to the observed locks in the axial and orbital rotation of Mercury, Venus, and the Earth.
KeywordsImpact Crater Lunar Planet Secondary Impact High Confine Pressure Silicate Mantle
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