Academic journal article Science Scope

Why Earth Is Bigger Than Mars

Academic journal article Science Scope

Why Earth Is Bigger Than Mars

Article excerpt

A new process in planetary formation modeling can explain why Mars has only 10% of the mass of the Earth.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

New calculations demonstrate that the structure of the inner solar system is actually the natural outcome of a new mode of planetary growth in which dust readily grows to "pebbles," some of which gravitationally collapse to form asteroid-sized objects. Under the right conditions, these primordial asteroids can efficiently feed on the remaining pebbles as they get pulled into orbit, spiral down, and fuse with the growing planetary body. Through this process, certain asteroids grow to the size of planets over a short period of time.

However, these new models find that the growth of primordial asteroids depends on their location. For example, an object the size of Ceres, the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt, would have grown very quickly near the current location of the Earth. But it would not have been able to grow effectively near the current location of Mars or beyond, because it would not have been able to capture enough pebbles. …

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