Notes Our Planetary System

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1 Notes Our Planetary System 7.1 Studying the Solar System - Galileo s telescopic observations sparked a new era in which the Sun, Moon and planets could be studied as worlds rather than just mere lights - We can study these worlds individually - Comparative Planetology: We also study these worlds by comparing one to another (this term is used by astronomers broadly as it includes moons, asteroid, comets and planets) What does the solar system look like? - The planets are all quite small compared to the distance between them - All the planets in our solar system orbit the sun in the same direction: pattern What can we learn by comparing the planets to one another? - By studying a planet in the context of other objects in the solar system, we are able to learn more about that individual world. Analogy: getting to know a person by learning more about their culture, family, friends Advantages of comparing Planets: 1. Comparative study has revealed differences and similarities helping guide the development of our theory of the solar system 2. New insights into the physical processes that have shaped Earth and other worlds 3. Allowed us to apply lessons we ve learnt from our solar system to the study of other planetary systems : may help lead us to discovering where other Earth-like planets exist Cosmic Context Figure Large bodies in the solar system have orderly motions all planet s have nearly circular orbits going in the same direction on the same plane 2. Planets fall into 2 categories: Terrestrial planets - Small in mass and size - Close to the Sun - Made of metal and rock - Few moons and no rings Jovian Planets - Large mass and size - Far from the sun - Made of H, He, and hydrogen compounds - Rings and many moons 3. Swarms of rocky asteroids and icy comets populate the solar system - They are mainly found however in 3 distinct regions Asteroid Belt: find asteroids (made of metal and rock) in orbit between Mars and Jupiter

2 Kuiper Belt: comets (ice rich) found beyond Neptune s orbit Oort Cloud: more comets orbit the sun in this outer region, rarely do they plunge into the inner solar system 4. Several unusual trends stand out - Earths unusually large moon - Uranus odd tilt (rotates on its side compare to its orbit) The Sun - Contains more than 99.8% of the entire mass in our solar system (largest & brightest in s.s) - Sunspots are each large enough to swallow several earths sunspots are slightly cooler than their surroundings - Solar storms: steamers of hot gas soaring above the surface Radius: 696, 000 km= 108 REarth Mass: 333,000MEarth Composition (by mass): 98%hydrogen and helium, 2% other - Gaseous - In its core lies the Sun s energy: temperatures and pressures are so high that there exists a nuclear fusion power plant - Each second this fusion transforms 600 million tons of the Sun s hydrogen into 596 million tons of helium - The mission 4 million become energy (Einstein Emc2) - The Sun s gravety governs the orbits of the planet - It is the source of nearly all the light in our solar system - The solar wind (charged particles flowing outward from the sun) shape planetary magnetic fields and influence planetary atmospheres. Mercury Distance from Sun: 0.39 AU Radius: 2440 km= 0.38REarth Mass: 0.055MEarth Average Density: 5.43 g/cm3 Composition: rocks, metals surface heavily crated Average Surface Temperature: 700 K (day) 100 K (night) Moons: 0 - Closest to earth, smallest - Desolate: no volcanoes, wind, rain, no life - No air to scatter sunlight: stars visible during the day - World of both cold and hot extremes - Tidal forces form the sun have forces Mercury in an unusual rotation pattern - Mercury has days and nights which last about 3 months each

3 - Temperatures are also drastically different during the night and day due to its 58.6 day rotation period: meaning it rotates exactly three times for every two of its 87.9 day orbits of the sun - Shows evidence of past geological activity: ancient lava flows, steep hills - Very large iron core (perhaps due to suffering a huge impact that blasted its outer core) - Has frozen water tiny quantities Venus Distance from Sun: 0.72 AU Radius: 6051 km= 0.95REarth Mass: 0.82MEarth Average Density: 5.24 g/cm3 Composition: rocks, metals Average Surface Temperature: 740 K Moons: 0 - Second planet from the sun identical size to earth - Rotates on its axis slowly, opposite direction as the earth days and nights are very long - Surface is hidden by dense clouds - Mountains, valleys, craters, evidence of past volcanoes - Venus resembles a traditional view of hell - An extreme greenhouse effect bakes Venus surface to an incredible (880F), the thick atmosphere also creates immense pressure - Contrary to popular beliefs, Venus is NOT a sister planet to Earth - Venus s greenhouse effect is cause by carbon dioxide same gas that is responsible for global warming on Earth - Perhaps further understanding Venus will allow us to understand and solve some of Earths problems? Earth Distance from Sun: 1.00 AU Radius: 6378 km= 1REarth Mass: 1.00MEarth Average Density: 5.52 g/cm3 Composition: rocks, metals Average Surface Temperature: 290 K Moons: 1 - Only known oasis of life in our solar system - Only planet with oxygen, ozone to shield from solar radiation and abundant surface water to nurture life - Atmosphere contains sufficient carbon dioxide to maintain moderate greenhouse effect = pleasant temperatures

4 - Planet closest to the sun to have a moon - Hypothesis regarding Earth s moon: it formed as a result of a giant impact early in Earth s history Mars Distance from Sun: 1.52 AU Radius: 3397 km= 0.53REarth Mass: 0.11MEarth Average Density: 3.93 g/cm3 Composition: rocks, metals Average Surface Temperature: 220 K Moons: 2 (very small) Phobos and Deimos - Last of the four inner planets of our solar system - Larger than Mercury and the Moon but only half Earth s size - Although Mars is frozen today, its dried-up riverbeds, floodplains and minerals that form in water prove there were at least some warn and wet periods in the past - Some liquid water could persist underground - Mars s surface looks Earthlike - Disadvantages: air pressure is low, temperature below freezing, scarce amounts of oxygen, lack of atmospheric ozone (exposed to ultraviolet radiations) - Big plans for Mars : including sending humans Jupiter Distance from Sun: 5.20 AU Radius: 71,492 km= 11.2REarth Mass: 318MEarth Average Density: 1.33 g/cm3 Composition: mostly hydrogen and helium Cloud Top Temperature: 125K Moons: at least 67 - To reach the orbit of Jupiter from Mars we must pass through the asteroid belt (distance is more than double the total distance from the Sun to Mars) - Largest planet in our solar system - Mass is 300 time that of Earth, volume is 1000 times that of Earth - No solid surface - Thin set of rings - Out of the 67 moons 4 are rather large, enough that we would call them planets or dwarf planets if they orbited the sun independently - Moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto (Galilean moons, Galileo discovered them)

5 Saturn Distance from Sun: 9.54 AU Radius: 60,268 km= 9.4REarth Mass: 95.2MEarth Average Density: 0.7 g/cm3 Composition: mostly hydrogen and helium Cloud Top Temperature: 95 K Moons: at least 62 - Saturn orbits nearly twice as far from the Sun as Jupiter - Second largest in our solar system - Low density (much lower than Jupiter although in diameter it s only slightly smaller) - Spectacular rings very visible : these rings consist of tiny ice and rock particles orbiting Saturn - Cassini is a spacecraft which orbits Saturn (since 2004) it has taught us about Saturn s 2 active moons - Enceladus: has ice fountains spraying out from its southern hemisphere - Titan: only moon in the solar system with a thick atmosphere (it s so far from the sun that it makes its temperature (-180C) is far too cold for liquid water to exist - However studies have shown it has a remarkable earth like landscape Uranus Distance from Sun: 19.2 AU Radius: 25,559 km= 4.0REarth Mass: 14.5MEarth Average Density: 1.32 g/cm3 Composition: hydrogen, helium, hydrogen compounds Cloud Top Temperature: 60 K Moons: at least 27 - Uranus lies twice as far from the sun as Saturn - Larger than earth but smaller than Saturn and Jupiter - Methane gives Uranus its pale green color - Lacks a solid surface - Planet also has rings - Its orbit is tipped on the side : this may be the result of a cataclysmic collision that Uranus suffered as it was formic - Most extreme seasonal variations of the planets in our solar system (continuous daylight for 42 years, 42 year long night) Neptune

6 Distance from Sun: 30.1 AU Radius: 24,764 km= 3.9REarth Mass: 17.1MEarth Average Density: 1.64g/cm3 Composition: hydrogen, helium, hydrogen compounds Cloud Top Temperature: 60 K Moons: at least 13 - Twin of Uranus - Smaller than Uranus in size, but its higher density makes it slightly more massive - Triton (moon larger than Plato) MOST FACINATING MOON - Only moon in the solar system that orbits its planet backward opposite to the direction Neptune rotates - Giving reason to believe that Triton once orbited the Sun independently before being captured in Neptune s orbit Dwarf Planets: Pluto, Eris, and more Pluto: Distance from Sun: 39.5 AU Radius: 1160km=0.18REarth Mass: MEarth Average Density: 2.0 g/cm3 Composition: ices, rock Cloud Top Temperature: 40 K Moons: 5 - Our former 9 th planet - Discovery of Eris and many other objects not much smaller than Eris caused scientist to reconsider the definition of planet - Results: Pluto and Eris considered dwarf planets: too small to qualify as official planets but large enough to be round in shape - Pluto and Eris belong to the Kuiper belt - Pluto: extremely cold and dark - From Pluto the Sun would appear as a little bright light - Largest asteroid of the asteroid belt: Ceres, qualifies as a Dwarf Planet February: the Dawn spacecraft arrives at Ceres - first close up view of this world July: after a 9-year journey, the New Horizons spacecraft will fly past Pluto 7.2 Patterns in the Solar System Looking for clues that may lead to the discovery of how the solar system formed

7 What feature of our solar system provides clues to how it formed? (See Figure 7.1 ^) 1. The sun, planets, and large moons generally rotate and orbit in a very generalized way 2. The eight official planets divide clearly into two groups: Terrestrial and Jovian 3. The solar system contains huge numbers of asteroid and comets 4. There are some notable exceptions to these general patterns Now MORE IN DEPTH Large bodies in the solar system have orderly motions - All planets have nearly circular orbits going in the same direction on the same plane - All planets orbit the Sun in the same direction: counterclockwise as viewed from high above Earth s North Pole - Most planets rotate in the same direction in which their orbit - Most of the solar systems moons exhibit similar properties in their orbits around their planets Planets fall into 2 categories: Terrestrial planets - Small in mass and size - Close to the Sun - Made of metal and rock - Few moods and no rings Jovian Planets - Large mass and size - Far from the sun - Made of H, He, and hydrogen compounds - Ring and many moons Swarms of rocky asteroids and icy comets populate the solar system - Asteroids: rocky bodies that orbit the Sun much like planets, but much smaller - Comets: also small object that orbit the Sun, by they are made largely of ice mixed with rock - They are mainly found however in 3 distinct regions Asteroid Belt: find asteroids (made of metal and rock) in orbit between Mars and Jupiter Kuiper Belt: comets (ice rich) found beyond Neptune s orbit Oort Cloud: more comets orbit the sun in this outer region, rarely do they plunge into the inner solar system Several unusual trends stand out - Earths unusually large moon - Uranus odd tilt (rotates on its side compare to its orbit)

8 - Venus rotates backward 7.3 Spacecraft Exploration of the Solar System - Most data fueling the revolution in our understanding of the solar system have come from robotic spacecraft How do they work? - A spacecraft can be categorized as flyby orbiter, lander or probe, or sample return mission. In all cases, robotic spacecraft carry their own propulsion, power, and communication systems, and can operate under preprogrammed control or with updated instructions from ground controllers - Robotic missions fall into four major categories Flyby: a spacecraft on a fly by passes by a world just once and continues on its way Orbiter: An orbiter is a spacecraft that orbits the world it is visiting, allowing longer-term study Lander or Probe: these space crafts are designed to land on a planet s surface or fly through a planet s atmosphere and probe it Sample return missions: Makes a round trip to return a sample of the world it has studied to Earth

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