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The Solar System. Chapter 23, Section 1. The Planets: An Overview. Terrestrial Planet – any of the Earth-like planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars

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The solar system

The Solar System

Chapter 23, Section 1

The planets an overview
The Planets: An Overview

  • Terrestrial Planet – any of the Earth-like planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars

  • Jovian Planet – the Jupiter-like planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune; these planets have relatively low densities and are huge gas giants

  • Size is the most obvious difference between the terrestrial and the Jovian planets

  • The diameter of the largest terrestrial planet, Earth, is only ¼ the diameter of the smallest Jovian planet, Neptune; it’s mass is only 1/17 that of Neptune

  • Density, chemical makeup, and rate of rotation are other ways in which the two groups of planets differ

  • The densities of the terrestrial planets average about 5 times that of water, while the Jovian planets only average about 1.5 times that of water

The interiors of the planets
The Interiors of the Planets

  • The substances that make up the planets are divided into 3 groups: gases, rocks, and ices

  • Gases – Hydrogen and Helium (melting point = -273oC)

  • Rocks – Silicate minerals and metallic iron (melting point = 700oC)

  • Ices – Ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, and water (melting point = 0oC)

  • Terrestrial planets contain mostly rock material, while the Jovian planets contain the gases and ices.

The atmospheres of the planets
The Atmospheres of the Planets

  • A planet’s ability to retain an atmosphere depends on its mass and size

  • Jovian planets have thick atmospheres of hydrogen, helium, methane, and ammonia, due to their high surface gravities and the ability to hold on to the light gases

  • Terrestrial planets have very small atmospheres in comparison, with the atmosphere making up only a small portion of the planet’s mass

Formation of the solar system nebular theory
Formation of the Solar System – Nebular Theory

  • Nebula – a cloud of dust and gas in space

  • These thin gaseous clouds begin to rotate and contract, and then spin faster

  • According to the nebular theory, the sun and planets formed from a rotating disk of dust and gases

  • As the speed of rotation increased, the center of the disk began to flatten out

  • The matter became more concentrated in the center, eventually igniting a nuclear reaction (the sun)

Formation of the solar system planetesimals
Formation of the Solar System – Planetesimals

  • Planetesimals – small, irregularly shaped bodies; formed from the collision of matter in space

  • As the collisions continued, the planetesimals grew larger, and began exerting their own gravity

  • In the inner solar system, it was so hot that only the metals and silicate materials could form

  • In the outer solar system, it was cool enough for the planets to attract ice and gases to add to their mass


  • Read Chapter 23, Section 1 (pg. 644-648)

  • Do Section 23.1 Assessment #1-7 (pg. 648)