|This story, written in 1985, is loosely based on the finding of the Grayton Beach meteorite...a spherical chunk of metal (about 33 pounds) found in a Florida
midden in November of 1983.
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And now, the....
History of A Visitor from Space
|Jupiter's outermost icy moon had played tag with the fifth planet for thousands of years.|
|That planet, a small, rocky world, had felt the tidal forces of the gravities of Mars and Jupiter pulling, stressing, and weakening it. Slowly, slowly, it was being drawn toward the icy Jovian satellite. The result was inevitable: collision!|
|Slowly, slowly, it was being drawn toward the icy Jovian satellite.|
|The results from the collision of two worlds never entirely die out. As the two worlds merged, grinding surface substances together as they shattered under the impact while releasing core pressures by way of explosion, the face of the solar system was changed forever.|
|The lighter debris of impact (shattered hunks of Jupiter's icy moon, now mixed with rocky particles from the fifth planet) were thrown the farthest afield. Of those icy hunks that did not bombard planets, moons, and the sun, orbits were established that would bring them back to the solar system periodically. As they approached the greatest gravitational force in the solar system, the Sun, the solar wind would vaporize their outer layers. The smallest pieces would develop a fuzzy glow. Larger chunks bore spectacular tails that streamed outward in the solar wind. Comets were born. The heavier materials dispersed in the collision found several different outlets for their energies. Many of the heavier pieces, surrounded by smaller satellite particles, found a relatively stable orbit between Mars and Jupiter. This multitude of particles later became known as the asteroid belt. Most of the planetary fragments, however, were sent hurtling through space. These bombarded the sun and all of its satellites. Millions upon millions of craters were formed from these chunks and particles.|
|The more violent impacts set up a chain reaction wherein particles
that had exploded
from the surface of one moon or planet would go on to impact other planetary or satellite
bodies. The process continued until many of the remaining particles were smaller and
lighter, and consequently less dangerous upon impact. Many of them established
orbits around some larger body. If the orbit decayed sufficiently, the satellite
became a meteor. On worlds with an atmosphere, these meteors were often burned up in
the friction of atmospheric entry. On Earth, these were commonly called
Some did, however, fall intact, and in so doing, influenced the lives of men.
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