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Chapter 7. Earth and The Terrestrial Worlds. Principles of Comparative Planetology. Comparative Planetology is the study of the solar system through examining and understanding the similarities and differences among the planets. Planetary Geology:

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Chapter 7

Earth and The Terrestrial Worlds


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Principles of Comparative Planetology

  • Comparative Planetology is the study of the solar system through examining and understanding the similarities and differences among the planets.

  • Planetary Geology:

  • The study of surface features and the processes that create them is called geology.

  • Today, we speak of planetary geology, the extension of geology to include all the solid bodies in the solar system.


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Viewing the Terrestrial Worlds

  • Spacecraft have visited and photographed all of the terrestrial worlds. Some have even been landed on!

  • Because surface geology depends largely on a planet’s interior, we must first look inside the terrestrial worlds.


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Global views and surface close-ups

Venus’ surface- atmosphere is not shown. Surface mapped from Megellan spacecraft radar data


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Venus – Venera Missions (1961-1983)

  • Surface Views of some of the terrestrial worlds.

  • Venus, the Moon and Mars have all been landed on successfully by spacecraft from Earth.

Links

Mars Exploration Rover Mission: The Mission

Mars Pathfinder

Apollo Lunar Missions (1969-1972)

Mars Pathfinder Mission (1996-1997)


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Inside the Terrestrial Worlds

  • When subjected to sustained stress over millions to billions of years, rocky material slowly deforms and flows.

  • Rock acts more like Silly PuddyTM , which stretches when you pull it slowly but breaks if you pull it sharply.

  • The rocky terrestrial worlds became spherical because of rock’s ability to flow.

  • When objects exceed about 500 km in diameter, gravity can overcome the strength of solid rock and make a world spherical


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  • Gravity also gives the terrestrial worlds similar internal structures.

  • Distinct layers are formed by differentiation.

  • Differentiation is the process by which gravity separates materials according to their density.

  • This resulted in three layers of differing composition within each terrestrial planet.

  • Core

  • Mantle

  • Crust


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  • Heat flows from the hot interior to the cool exterior by conduction and convection.

  • Condution: Heat transfer as a result of direct contact.

  • Convection: Heat transfer by means of hot material expanding and rising and cool material contracting and sinking.

  • A small region of rising and falling material is called a convection cell.


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Shaping Planetary Surfaces conduction and convection.

There are four main geological processes

  • Impact Cratering: the excavation of bowl-shaped depressions (impact craters) by asteroids or comets striking a planet’s surface.

  • Volcanism:the eruption of molten rock, or lava, from a planet’s interior onto it’s surface.

  • Tectonics:the disruption of a planet’s surface by internal stresses.

  • Erosion:the wearing down or building up of geological features by wind, water, ice, and other phenomena of planetary weather.


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Impact Process conduction and convection.

Ejecta

Impact

Ejecta Blanket


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Cratering conduction and convection.


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Volcanism conduction and convection.


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(Mount St. Helens) conduction and convection.

c) “Sticky” lava makes steep-sloped stratovolcanoes.

Picture by US Geological Survey scientist, Austin Post, on May 18, 1980.


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Tectonic Forces at work. conduction and convection.

Convection Cells


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Comparing Planetary Atmospheres conduction and convection.


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Atmospheric Structure conduction and convection.


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Visible Light: Warming the Surface and Coloring the Sky conduction and convection.

Atmospheric gases scatter blue light more than they scatter red light.

Longer wavelength red light is more penetrating


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Infrared Light: the Greenhouse Effect, and the Tropsosphere conduction and convection.

  • The Troposphere becomes warmer than it would if it had no greenhouse gases.

  • Greenhouse gases include:

    • CO2

    • Water Vapor


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The Greenhouse Effect conduction and convection.


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Temperatures of the Terrestrial Worlds conduction and convection.


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The Magnetosphere conduction and convection.

  • The Magnetosphere blocks the Solar Wind

  • This produces two regions where the charged particles get trapped – Van Allen Belts.


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Aurora Borealis – Norhern Lights near the poles, produces the:


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Atmospheric Origins and Evolution near the poles, produces the:

  • Outgassing from Volcanic activity was most responsible for producing the earth’s early atmosphere. (Volcanoes give off H2O, CO2, N2, and sulfur compounds.

  • As life developed, it too influenced the atmosphere of the Earth, allowing it to become what it is today. (e.g. plants give off O2 and consume CO2)


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Many gases can escape from the planet if their thermal speed is greater than the escape speed of the planet.

Five Major Processes By Which Atmospheres Lose Gas.


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A Tour of the Terrestrial Worlds is greater than the escape speed of the planet.


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The Moon 1,738-km radius, 1.0AU from the Sun is greater than the escape speed of the planet.

Astronaut explores a small crater

An ancient lava river


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Mercury is greater than the escape speed of the planet.(2,440-km radius, 0.39AU from the Sun)


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Dust Storm over northern ice cap, is greater than the escape speed of the planet.Mars Global Surveyor

Polar Ice Cap (Mars) Viking Orbiter

Edge of polar ice cap showing layers of ice and dust.

Mars (3,397-km radius, 1.52 AU from the Sun)


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Cratering, Volcanism and Tectonics is greater than the escape speed of the planet.

Valles Marineris

Heavy cratering in Southern Hemisphere

(Mars)

Olympus Mons: – largest shield volcano in the solar system


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Martian outflow channels and flood planes is greater than the escape speed of the planet.

Ancient River beds

Outflow channels indicate catastrophic flooding

Water eroded crater

Gullies on a crater wall formed by water flows?


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Venus (6,051-km radius, 0.72 AU from Sun) is greater than the escape speed of the planet.

Shield Volcanoes are common

Impact craters on Venus are rare

Fractured and twisted crust


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Earth (6, 378 km radius, 1.0 AU from the Sun) is greater than the escape speed of the planet.


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Time-Line of Geologic Activity is greater than the escape speed of the planet.


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End of Section is greater than the escape speed of the planet.


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