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Tuesday October 9, 2012. ( Our Solar System – Evolution of the Planets; Mercury & Venus; Video Segment – Journey to the Edge of the Universe). The Launch Pad Tuesday, 10/9/12. Why are the Gas Giant (Jovian) planets more massive than the terrestrial planets, but less dense?. The Launch Pad

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tuesday october 9 2012
TuesdayOctober 9, 2012

(Our Solar System – Evolution of the Planets; Mercury & Venus; Video Segment – Journey to the Edge of the Universe)


The Launch Pad

Tuesday, 10/9/12

Why are the Gas Giant (Jovian) planets more massive than the terrestrial planets, but less dense?


The Launch Pad

Tuesday, 10/9/12

The Gas Giants are more massive because their strong gravitational fields drew in the light hydrogen and helium gases that were abundant in the outer solar system.

Gas Giants are less dense because they occupy a much greater volume than the terrestrial planets do.

Remember, Density = mass/volume


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A dying star is throwing a cosmic tantrum in this image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. In death, the star's dusty outer layers are unraveling into space, glowing from the intense ultraviolet radiation being pumped out by the hot stellar core. This object, called the Helix nebula, lies 650 light-years away, in the constellation of Aquarius

our solar system
Our Solar System
  • The planets in our solar system orbit close to a flat plane put into place by our protoplanetary accretion disk 4.5 bya.
    • However, the orbital planes of the planets are slightly inclined.
our solar system1
Our Solar System
  • The planes of seven of the planets lie within 3 degrees of the Sun’s equator, but Mercury’s plane is inclined 7 degrees.
  • Dwarf planet Pluto’s plane is inclined 17 degrees.
our solar system2
Our Solar System
  • Two groups of planets occur in the solar system
    • Terrestrial (Earth-like) planets
      • Mercury through Mars
      • Small, dense, rocky
      • Low escape velocities
    • Jovian (Jupiter-like) planets
      • Jupiter through Neptune
      • Large, low density, gaseous
      • Massive
      • Thick atmospheres composed of hydrogen, helium, methane, and ammonia
      • High escape velocities
our solar system3
Our Solar System
  • Planets are composed of:
    • Gases
      • hydrogen and helium
    • Rocks
      • silicate minerals and metallic iron
    • Ices
      • ammonia (NH3), methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O)
evolution of the planets
Evolution of the Planets

The Nebular Hypothesis

    • The planets formed about 5 billion years ago.
    • Our solar system condensed from a gaseous nebula.
  • As the planets formed, the materials that compose them separated.
    • The dense, metallic elements (iron and nickel) sank toward their centers.
    • The lighter elements (silicate minerals, oxygen, hydrogen) migrated toward their surfaces.
    • This process is called chemical differentiation.
  • The innermost planet – 36 million miles from the Sun
  • The smallest planet – 3 015 miles in diameter
  • Has no atmosphere
  • Cratered highlands
  • Vast, smooth terrains
  • Very dense – average 5.4 g/cm3 (only Earth is denser)
  • Revolves quickly – only 88 days to circle the Sun
  • Rotates slowly – 59 days to turn once on its axis
  • Venus is the third most brilliant object in our sky after the Sun and Moon
  • Its similar to Earth in:
    • Size - 7 526 miles in diameter
    • Density – 5.2 g/cm3
    • Earth’s closest neighbor after the Moon
  • Shrouded in thick clouds that are Impenetrable by visible light
    • Venus’ atmosphere is 97% carbon dioxide
    • The surface atmospheric pressure is 90 times that of Earth
  • Venus’ Surface
    • Mapped by radar, not visual observation
    • Surface Features
      • 80% of surface is subdued plains that are mantled by volcanic flows
      • Low density of impact craters
      • Tectonic deformation must have been active during the recent geologic past
      • Thousands of volcanic structures