QUOTE (imipak @ Jan 17 2006, 03:14 PM)
... OK, well I think the rates of impacts of various sizes are fairly well known... )
What would the inner basin have looked like 100 years ago? 1 million? 100 million?
Well, it seems the rate of impacts, particularly various sizes, it not known at all. Much 'science' is pure speculation based on the prognostications of what some deem ‘experts.’ They used to ‘date’ by counting impact craters – then figured out, most belatedly, recently, that larger impacts cause many smaller ones... duh!
With prognosticators being that lame, anyone with half a brain has just as good a guess as the ‘experts’ – who apparently habitually keep their brains far too well pickled.
Considering that experts today claim that about 100 tons of meteoroids hit the Earth every day – it would be interesting to see what they think the daily tonnage rate of meteoroids on Mars is.
I’m skeptical of these ‘mini-craters’ seen on Mars being caused by anything directly from space, despite thin atmosphere – but, I’m certain that many a piece of larger meteors are indeed part of the landscape we have seen in these photos. If those mini-craters where MER-B is are caused by a meteor of any size, they are more likely something blown into the sky by the original object, and less likely to be a grain-of-sand-like fragment of the original, especially in the region where MER-B is. That is, unless there are far more exploding meteors on Mars than we have reliable knowledge of.
Many people are not aware that quite often larger meteors entering earth's atmosphere often explode prior to impact - making the 'impact' a large number of impacts of various degrees of force. I have not seen reliable data on the frequency and probability of this happening in the Mars atmosphere - but low angular entry could make this possible on Mars as well. (Consider the likelihood of multiple orbits before lower Mars gravity finally brings down a 'captured' meteor.)
My guess is that 1000 years ago the inner basin looked pretty much as it does today, give or take a few craters here and there. But, there would most likely be fewer and smaller dunes - and less 'smooth' area devoid of exposed rock on the surface. Beyond a few thousand years, what it looked like is simply a guess, yours being just as good, if not better, than anyone else might claim.