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No. 5: November 1978

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Petrol channels on mars?

The many channels on Mars closely resemble terrestrial river beds. But Martian models that assume water to have been the eroding agent encounter difficulties, because Martian gravity is too weak to hold the hydrogen when water is dissociated by solar radiation. A better bet, say Y.L. Yung and J.P. Pinto, is liquid hydrocarbons; i.e., petrol. Starting with a methane atmosphere, at 0.1 earth's atmospheric pressure, the natural loss of hydrogen would lead to the polymerization of hydrocarbons and eventual condensation. "Petrofalls" from this atmosphere could cover the Martian surface to a depth of one meter and lead to heavy erosion.

(Anonymous; "Martian Surface in Good Spirits," New Scientist, 79:19, 1978.)

Comment. There is an obvious connection here to the long-debated origin of terrestrial petroleum and, to be complete, Velikovsky's ridiculed claim of ancient terrestrial "petrofalls"!

From Science Frontiers #5, November 1978. 1978-2000 William R. Corliss