Research Articles

The Exchange of Impact Ejecta Between Terrestrial Planets

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Science  08 Mar 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5254, pp. 1387-1392
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5254.1387


Orbital histories of ejecta from the terrestrial planets were numerically integrated to study their transfer to Earth. The properties of the lunar and martian meteorites are consistent with a recurrent ejection of small meteoroids as a result of impacts on their parent bodies. Long-range gravitational effects, especially secular resonances, strongly influence the orbits of many meteoroids, increasing their collision rates with other planets and the sun. These effects and collisional destruction in the asteroid belt result in shortened time scales and higher fluxes than previously believed, especially for martian meteorites. A small flux of mercurian ejecta appears possible; recovery of meteorites from the Earth and Venus is less likely.