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Shape of Mars


THE geometrical ellipticity of Mars differs considerably from the dynamical ellipticity obtained from the precession of the orbits of the satellites. Study1 of the Martian centre of mass lead Schubert and Lingenfelter to comment that the location of the Hellas basin near the direction of the thinnest crust, as implied by the offset, might suggest that an impact produced the asymmetric crustal distribution. If such an impact did occur then it is likely to have also affected the shape of Mars. An order of magnitude estimate can therefore be made, from the shape of Mars, of the required size and velocity of the impacting body.

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  1. Schubert, G., and Lingenfelter, R. E., Nature, 242, 251 (1973).

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  2. Dollfus, A., Icarus, 17, 525 (1972).

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  3. Sinclair, A. J., Mon. Not. R. astr. Soc., 155, 249, 1972.

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  4. Runcorn, S. K., Icarus, 18, 109 (1973).

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PETERSONS, H. Shape of Mars. Nature 253, 103–104 (1975).

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