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Transcript of Space
Space Exploration Project
By Jude Duvall
Table of Contents
The moon is a satellite of Earth with
rocky composure similar to that of the Inner Planets. While being the most
noticeable object in the sky, the moon is
in synchronous rotation with the Earth.
This means that it takes the moon the
same amount of time to rotate around
its axis as it does to orbit around the
Earth (27.3 days). The moon has a very
thin atmosphere causing a low rate of erosion allowing things like dust and
craters present on the surface to remain
undisturbed. The moons average distance
from the earth is 384,400 km.
The Solar System
The Inner Planets
The solar system is
composed of the Inner
Planets, the Outer
Planets, their satellites,
and other things such
as asteroid fields that
orbit around the sun.
The Inner Planets are the
4 planets closest to the sun. In
order from least to greatest distance they are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. These
planets are all similar to each other in that
they share their rocky composition. When compared to the Outer Planets they are less massive, smaller, more dense, and posses fewer satellites.
Earth is the 3rd closest planet to the sun. Being one of the Inner planets, Earth is composed primarily of rock. Earth is the most dense planet in the solar system and has one natural satellite. Earth rotates on its axis every 23 hours and 56 minutes and orbits around the sun every 365.26 days. The Earth's average distance from the sun is 1 astronomical unit or 150 million km. Earth is the only known planet to sustain life based upon its perfect conditions.
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun and thus is the fastest planet to orbit around it. Smaller than any of the 8 planets in the solar system, it takes 88 days for Mercury to complete its rotation, that is 24% of the time it takes Earth. Mercury's distance from earth is 57.9 million km. Due to the lack of an atmosphere Mercury's surface temperature ranges drastically from 100 K to 700 K. Mercury has no natural satellites.
Venus is the closest size to Earth out of all the planets in the solar system. It is the second closest planet to the sun and orbits at an average of 108 million km. Venus rotates on its axis every 243 Earth days, and orbits around the sun 225 days. Venus has an atmosphere made of Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen containing clouds of sulfuric acid. Venus has an extremely high surface temperature reaching up to 480 degrees Celsius. Venus has no natural satellites.
Mars is the fourth closest planet to the sun. It orbits at a distance of 228 million km. Mars has a thin atmosphere made of primarily Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen, and Argon. It takes 24 hours for Mars to rotate on its axis and 687 days for mars to orbit around the sun. Mars has frozen water and 2 Natural satellites (Deimos and Phobos). No manned expeditions have been sent to Mars but rovers are constantly gathering information about the surface conditions.
The Outer Planets are the 4 planets furthest from the sun. In order from least to greatest distance they are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Unlike the Inner planets, the Outer Planets are composed mostly of gas and are known as gas giants. The outer planets are much larger, more massive, and less dense than the Inner Planets. Each of the Outer Planets have a large amount of natural satellites.
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system 121.9 times larger than Earth. It is the 5th closest planet to the sun orbiting at an average distance of 778 million km. It takes Jupiter 12 hours to rotate on its axis and 12 Earth years to orbit around the sun. Being a gas giant Jupiter is mainly composed of Hydrogen and Helium. Jupiter has 50 known moons and 17 moons predicted to exist as well. Jupiter is very bright in the sky viewed from Earth. The surface of Jupiter houses multiple storms larger than Earth.
Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system and the 6th planet from the sun orbiting at a distance of 1.4 billion km. It takes Saturn 10.7 hours to rotate around its axis and 29 years to orbit around the sun. Similar to Jupiter Saturn is made of mostly hydrogen and Helium. Saturn is famous for its enormous ring composed of particles ranging in size. Saturn has 53 confirmed moons and 9 unconfirmed.
Uranus is the 7th planet from the sun orbiting at 2.9 billion km away. Uranus takes 17 hours to rotate on its axis and 84 years to rotate around the sun. Uranus has 27 confirmed moons and the fourth largest planetary mass in the solar system. Uranus has the coldest planetary atmosphere with a minimum temperature of 49 K.
Neptune is the 8th and furthest planet from the sun orbiting at 4.5 billion km. Neptune rotates on its axis every 16 hours and orbits around the sun every 165 years. Neptune has 13 confirmed moons and 1 unconfirmed. Neptune is composed of mostly water, ammonia, and methane. Neptune has 6 rings 1 fewer than Saturn.
Stars are extremely massive collections of burning gas held together by their own gravity. Stars are formed when clouds of dust become attracted to each other to the extent that a core is formed this is called a protostar. Stars are constantly emitting radiation due to the nuclear fusion of atoms creating energy within the stars core. Our sun is a star and is responsible for providing heat, light, and other forms of energy to Earth and all of the planets in the solar system. The sun makes up 99.8% of the mass of the solar system.
Star systems are collections of stars that orbit each other. At a larger scale star systems are represented by things such as star clusters and galaxies.
Constellations are patterns made by stars easily visible in the sky from Earth in close proximity to each other relative to what we can see. They are imaginary images such as the Big Dipper on the left that help us identify certain stars. Constellations were used to describe phenomena that earlier civilizations could not explain.
Galaxies are extremely massive collections of stars, dust, dark matter, planets such as our own, and other forms of matter. It is believed that most galaxies are held together by super massive black holes at their cores. Galaxies can have billions to trillions of stars (less so in dwarf galaxies). The universe is estimated to have 100-200 billion galaxies though this number is constantly changing.
A nebula is an interstellar cloud of gas and dust. These clouds can be the foundation of many stars as the matter in a nebular can achieve enough mass to form a core. Possibly the most famous nebula is Eagle Nebula depicted to the left.
Meteors and Meteorites
Meteors are meteoroids (small rocky or metallic objects floating through space) that have come into contact with Earth's atmosphere. This causes a streak of light noticeable in the sky which is where the term "shooting star" was formed. Upon coming in contact with the surface of Earth if the entirety of the meteor did not disintegrate in the atmosphere, any debris of the meteor is classified as meteorite.
Comets are large formations of frozen gasses, rock, and dust. When coming close to the sun, comets heat up and form an atmosphere called a coma and sometimes a tail. The coma and the tail are much larger than the the comet and when bright enough can be viewed from space without aid. Comets have varied orbital period around the sun. Halleys comet can be viewed from Earth every 75-76 years.
Asteroids are solid bodies of rock with no atmosphere much larger than meteoroids. Most asteroids orbit our sun with orbital periods and rotational cycles varying depending up the asteroid.
Pluto formally considered a planet is now classified as a dwarf planet due to its similar size in comparison to the bodies of the Kuiper Belt as of 2006. Pluto orbits at approximately 5.9 billion km from the sun. Pluto is rocky in composition and has an atmosphere that expands and contracts as it moves closer and further away from the sun respectfully. Pluto's orbit is highly eccentric.