Astronomy by Getmantsev Cosmic rays Sov.

By Getmantsev Cosmic rays Sov.

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Such events could have been responsible for extinctions as seen in the fossil record of Earth’s rocks. ’’ Many theories were put forth as to how the dinosaurs, along with about 85 percent of the species on the planet, could have died at the same time about 65 million years ago. In the 1980s, an impact hypothesis for their extinction was suggested. While a massive impact might be quite enough to deal with on its own, the dinosaurs may have Cosmic Collisions: Cratering • 23 already been struggling to adapt to a changing environment.

Such events can range from relatively placid, like the slow movement of lava from Kilauea’s flanks to the sea, or sudden and dramatic, like the explosion of the summit of Mount St. Helens. In fact, these two sorts of events may seem to have little in common but the underlying mechanisms that drive them are rooted in similar processes. At its simplest, volcanic activity can happen whenever some sort of melted or liquid material moves across or erupts through a surface of solid material. The liquid can find its way to the surface in many different ways.

This comparison can be expressed as the ‘‘Surface Area to Volume Ratio’’ of a planet. 001. Obviously the larger planet will have more success retaining its heat over time. The Earth is the largest inner planet, and so has been able to trap more heat, and for longer, than any of the others. 5 billion years old. It may have had some small amount of volcanism as recently as 2 billion years ago, but very likely has been inactive since. Similar timeframes are likely on Mercury. Mars, the next largest in size, has giant shield volcanoes built from 1 to 2 billion years ago.

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