Scientists formerly believed that the rocky planets – Earth, Mercury, Venus, and Mars – were created by the rapid gravitational collapse of a dust cloud, a deflation giving rise to a dense orb. That view was challenged in the 1960s, when studies of Moon craters revealed that these craters were caused by the impact of objects that were in great abundance about 4.5 billion years ago but whose number appeared to have quickly decreased shortly thereafter. This observation rejuvenated Otto Schmidt's 1944 theory of accretion. According to this theory, cosmic dust gradually lumped into ever-larger conglomerates: particulates, gravel, small and then larger balls, planetesimals (tiny planets), and, ultimately, planets. As the planetesimals became larger, their numbers decreased. Consequently, the number of collisions between planetesimals decreased.