NASA’S Curiosity Rover 2016
Wednesday’s post, titled Boraxo, had a throwaway line about Frank’s small comets being the source of earth’s boron. My sister Emily thought my aside comment had no context. Rereading what I had written, I agreed it could have been written better. But the most interesting thing has happened. Patrick Huyghe, Louis A. Frank’s editor and the republisher of Frank’s book. Cosmic Rain, quickly dug up an article about borax on Mars, Borax discovered on Mars.
Boron has a very strong molecular affinity for water, like sodium and potassium, but more subtle and complex. Frank saw the small comets as the answer to the question: ‘Why is the sea salty?’ Easy question to ask, but hard to answer. The water vapor cycle purifies water and water’s subduction into the crust and mantle removes water from the ocean. So why do the oceans’ dissolved minerals remain at their equilibrium? These mineral salts are characteristic of the small comets. That’s Frank’s answer. Ten million salty, small comets every year keep the oceans in equilibrium.
The Dead Sea, The Mojave desert, Turkey’s Etimaden deposits and Chile’s Atacama desert, all have brine mineral deposits in rough ratio to seawater. US Borax, aka Rio Tinto, is mining its ninety years worth of borax tailings in Boron, California for lithium. Borate and lithuim deposits are always found together in the same rough ratio as they are in seawater.
The recently discovered borax deposits on Mars probably have the same mineral ratios as the ones on Earth. Want to bet against that?
The data from the Mercury Messenger satellite revealed the craters on Mercury are filled with water-ice, especially the polar craters and Mercury’s dark, graphite-rich surface is pockmarked with constantly forming “hollows.” Those hollows are best explained as impact formation from the explosive force of Frank’s small comets, or better described in Mercury’s case as very large exploding snowballs.
Here is another bet I’d like to make. ESA’s Bepicolumbo mission satellite will begin orbiting Mercury in 2025. When it looks for boron, I bet it finds it.
I’ve shown my predilection for gambling by ‘betting’ in this essay, so here goes, third and final. I bet the small comet flux becomes denser as it is drawn closer to the sun by the solar gravitational field. I know somebody like Frank could do the math. You only have to be able to count to know Mercury orbits the sun every eighty-eight days. Whatever water and mineral complexes are delivered to Mercury by Frank’s small comets, they are concentratred there in abundance.
Frank assumed the small comets had a thin carbon mantle that kept them from melting as they were drawn nearer to the sun. He also assumed they would disintegrate before they reached the innermost planets of Venus and certainly Mercury. Perhaps the carbon mantles were a little thicker than Frank guessed. In any case both the surface of Mercury and the small comets are very dark. Mercury’s got lots of graphite on it’s surface. Graphite is carbon. Diamonds are graphite’s metamorphic children. I’ve read speculation Mercury’s surface is covered with diamonds. If they are there, I want to bet they are all the rarest shade of blue. The element that gives these rare blue diamonds on earth their otherworldly hue is boron.
Emily Forstner, please note – not one semicolon or parenthetical in the entire text.