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The two dominating Martian craters above, whose features have yet to be addressed by NASA, share
“inconceivable” similarities.
Credit: Image courtesy of Michael Gmirkin and NASA’s World Wind 3D visualization software.

Dec 22, 2006
The “Impossible” Twin Peaks

Add another puzzle to the litany of Martian anomalies: two “impact” craters side by side, both with central peaks terminating in craters.

Though the 3D visualization of the two craters above exaggerates depth, the image accents the kind of mysteries that have been causing increasing headaches, confusion, and contradiction among NASA scientists.

No formative process envisioned by planetary science ever anticipated the central peaks of the craters seen in the images above terminating as they do in a second crater. We have unsuccessfully sought to find some reference by NASA investigators to the forms exhibited by these enigmatic features. The craters occur in a region of the southern hemisphere that planetary scientists consider to be dominated by impacts. But to account for the forms seen here, the impact hypothesis must summon the inconceivable.

Scientists have been able to produce “rebound” elevations in explosion craters. They also have a theoretical “analogy” in the rebound effect that occurs in thick fluids into which an object is dropped. But they have no reasonable analog for the steep peaks witnessed above, and the idea of two secondary impacts striking these peaks head-on is simply beyond belief. It should be obvious, therefore, that the presence of two craters exhibiting the same anomaly, and standing side-by-side, categorically excludes the impact hypothesis.

As we have noted in previous pictures of the day, electrical discharge experiments easily produce craters with central peaks. So it is no stretch at all to envision a discharge event excavating the kind of craters seen above, including the pinnacles in their centers.

One mechanism on which some electrical theorists have speculated is the possibility that these elevated peaks became “lightning rods” for secondary strokes carving out craters on their summits. Expecting secondary arcs to preferentially return along a prior conductive path is allowable, while expecting subsequent random ballistic impactors to be preferentially drawn to the central spires of pre-existing craters (with or without obliterating them) is not.

But Wallace Thornhill offers another perspective. Though he does not rule out the principle of a secondary discharge, he notes that many central peaks are not symmetrical, and that non-symmetry would give rise to misshapen arc-erosion of the central peak, rather than the neatly central hollows we see.

Thornhill writes (private communication), “The symmetry makes it more likely that those “dished” peaks arise from the process that forms the crater and not some subsequent discharge activity. The effect is the same as we see in a linear discharge across the surface, cutting a channel with raised levees on either side, only executed here by an arc moving in a circle.

Thornhill envisions twin Birkeland filaments rotating “like a corkscrew about a center.” Given this symmetry, the blast effects from the twin arcs will tend to cancel at the center, leaving a central spire relatively unscathed. However, the inward blast will also give rise to shock-metamorphism of minerals in the central spire. If the crater dimensions are suitable, the inner raised levee bank will form what looks like a crater centered precisely on the central peak.

Thornhill continues: “This allows me to predict that the floor of the central depression will be at about the same height as the surrounding terrain and will show the same geologic structure. In other words, it will be continuous with the surrounding strata. That will rule out an impact origin even though it will contain shocked minerals.”

If an electrical interpretation is required to account for these surface features, then that interpretation would anticipate the possibility of many similar features in the region. In fact, looking closely at the picture above, a smaller third crater (lower right) reveals yet another peak and a third crater atop this peak. (See close-up image we have placed here.) Other craters in the region, but out of frame, also display similar morphology.

It should be obvious that the presence of two craters exhibiting the same anomaly and standing side-by-side is rationally precluded by conventional assumptions. Additional examples in the region could only add an exclamation point to the failure of standard theory.

Today, the planet Mars is the object of more intensive investigation than any other body in the solar system, aside from the Earth. Anomalies of the sort noted here, ubiquitous across the Martian surface, will pose numerous tests of the electrical hypothesis. As we approach year’s end, we are thus encouraged to set forth a series of predictions as to expected findings. In many cases, the expectations that follow from an electric model stand in stark contrast to those of standard theory. Some of these predictions are conventionally “out of the question,” but it is this contrast that will add the greatest value to a record of success.


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  CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Dwardu Cardona, Ev Cochrane,
C.J. Ransom, Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman
  WEBMASTER: Brian Talbott

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