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# The Solar System Missions - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

The Solar System Missions. Comparative Planetology * The study of the similarities and dissimilarities of the constituents of the solar system. * Provides a basis for understanding how the solar system might have formed and how it evolved. Properties. Mass:

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* The study of the similarities and dissimilarities of the constituents of the solar system.

* Provides a basis for understanding how the solar system might have formed and how it evolved.

Mass:

Planetary masses are determined by measuring the orbital characteristics of moons, orbital characteristics of comets or asteroids, effects on the orbits of other planets, or orbiting satellites sent from earth. From Newton’s Laws, the acceleration of the orbiting object (assuming a circular orbit) is

From the Universal Law of Gravity

a = G {M / r2} = v2 / r

where

G = 6.67 x 10-11 Nm2/Kg2

M is the mass of the planet

r is the radius of the orbit

V is the speed of the orbiting object

Mass:

Planetary masses are determined by measuring the orbital characteristics of moons, or orbiting satellites sent from earth. From Newton’s Laws, the acceleration of the orbiting object (assuming a circular orbit) is

Note: the speed can easily be determined from knowledge of the radius of the orbit and the period. In one period, the object must travel a distance equal to the circumference of the orbit:

v = 2 π r / T

where

2 π r is the circumference of the orbit

T is the period

Mass:

Planetary masses are determined by measuring the orbital characteristics of moons, or orbiting satellites sent from earth. From Newton’s Laws, the acceleration of the orbiting object (assuming a circular orbit) is

Therefore:

M = r v2 / G

where

G = 6.67 x 10-11 Nm2/Kg2

M is the mass of the planet

r is the radius of the orbit

Density:

Once the mass of the planet is known, the density is computed from the calculated mass and the observed angular size of the object.

d = m / V

where

D is the density

V is the volume

Atmosphere:

Existence determined by a tradeoff between the gravitation attraction on particles and the speed of the particles (based upon the their temperature).

Water:

Big current question. Answers to the existence of water on planets and moons is under active investigation.