Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/72

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of a conservatory, letting the light-rays in and opposing the passage of the heat-rays out.

The state of things thus disclosed by observation, the cloudlessness and the rim of limb-light, turns out to agree in a most happy manner with what probability would lead us to expect; for the most natural supposition to make à priori about the Martian atmosphere is the following: When each planet was produced by fission from the parent nebula, we may suppose that it took with it as its birthright its proportion of chemical constituents; that is, that its amount of oxygen, nitrogen and so forth was proportional to its mass. Doubtless its place in the primal nebula would to a certain extent modify the ratio, just as the size of the planet would to a certain extent modify the relative amount of these elements that would thereupon enter into combination. Supposing, however, that the ratio of the free gases to the other elements remained substantially the same, we should have in the case of any two planets the same relative quantity of atmosphere. But the size of the planet would entirely alter the distribution of this air.

Three causes would all combine to rob the smaller planet of efficient covering, on the general principle that he that hath little shall have less.

In the first place, the smaller the planet the