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The Escape of Planetary Atmospheres

  • Donald H. Menzel (a1)

Abstract

The problem of escape of atmospheres from the Moon and planets has roots deep in ancient history. Many of the great philosophers of the past regarded the Earth's atmosphere as a medium extending to infinity, with a stationary Earth imbedded at the center. Indeed, it was this concept that led Ptolemy, among many others, to conclude that the Earth could not be moving, for otherwise it would be subject to a gale-force wind caused by its own motion. This idea fostered many of the early stories of interplanetary visitations. Lucian, for example, writing in the second century A.D., has his Icarome nippus fly to the Moon and beyond by means of wings attached to his body.

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