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Space

Where there is no gravity, there is space.....
by

Veda Thomas

on 6 March 2013

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Transcript of Space

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli Our home Earth The Blue Planet The Earth's nickname is The Blue Planet for a reason.
The Earth is covered in water in fact 3/4 of Earth is cover in endless seeming seas. Yes, I know I said sea thats because there is about .0001% of Earth's water is fresh and drinkable for humans. But the Earth is also covered in other things like dry land, mountains, plains and clouds. But not all these things can be seen from space. Earth's Dense Atmosphere... Our atmosphere consists of many layers. The first layer is called the Troposphere. If you were to measure the Troposphere in height it would be about 18km tall. The second layer of the atmosphere is the Stratosphere and if you were to measure the Stratosphere in height it would measure to 50km. But within the Stratosphere there is something called the Ozone Layer. It is responsible for absorbing the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Without it the Earth's surface would be fried. The third layer of the atmosphere is called the Mesosphere it measures to 90km in height and the fourth layer is called the Ionosphere in height it is 350km. Numbers, Numbers, NUMBERS!! Perfect??? It's not a perfect sphere. As Earth spins, gravity points toward the center of our planet (assuming for explanation's sake that Earth is a perfect sphere), and a centrifugal force pushes outward. But since this gravity-opposing force acts perpendicular to the axis of Earth, and Earth's axis is tilted, centrifugal force at the equator is not exactly opposed to gravity. This imbalance adds up at the equator, where gravity pushes extra masses of water and earth into a bulge, or "spare tire" around our planet. You may feel like you're standing still, but you're actually moving — fast. Depending on where you are on the globe, you could be spinning through space at just over 1,000 miles per hour. People on the equator move the fastest, while someone standing on the North or South pole would be perfectly still. (Imagine a basketball spinning on your finger. A random point on the ball's equator has farther to go in a single spin as a point near your finger. Thus, the point on the equator is moving faster.) It's a Bit Old.... Researchers calculate the age of the Earth by dating both the oldest rocks on the planet and meteorites that have been discovered on Earth (meteorites and Earth formed at the same time, when the solar system was forming). Their findings? Earth is about 4.54 billion years old. Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets. It has a circumference of 24,901 miles! Its distance from the sun is 92,960,000 miles and a density of 5.52 g/cm³. It has a mass of 5.972E24 kg and as you probly know, the Earth can go around the Sun in 365 days. Also, suprisingly, as of 2010 there was a population of 6,840,507,003 people!!! On the Move sun The Sun... It's Not a Planet... A lot of people think that the Sun is a planet but the Sun is really a star! I know it's a 1,989,881,989,610,210,000,000,000,000,000 kilogram star but that doesn't matter. It's still a star. There are billions of stars out there and
some of them might be even bigger then the Sun. Weight, Width, WOW!! The Sun has a diameter of 1.4 million
kilometers and a surface area of
6.088 x 10 to the 12th power and that's
HUGE!!! The Sun is 57.9 million kilometers away from it's nearest planet,
Mercury. The temprature of the surface of the Sun is about 10,112 degrees Fahrenheit so I would not want to be standing on the Sun. Ouch!! Pretty Bright The Solar System Mercury Half a Planet?! Did you know that NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft made its first flyby of Mercury in
2008, NASA only had close up
pictures of one half of Mercury’s surface. These first pictures were captured by NASA’s Mariner 10 spacecraft, which made a series of three flybys in 1974-75. During its closest flyby, Mariner came within 327 km of the surface of Mercury, and detected its magnetic field. Just after its final close approach, Mariner 10 ran out of fuel, and has probably been orbiting the region ever since.
But not until 2008 the other side of Mercury was
captured in pictures. Ice??? I know, this one’s hard to believe,
since Mercury is so close to the Sun, and it’s baking hot. But the reality is that there are regions on the surface of Mercury which are never heated by the Sun. These are craters around the poles of the planet which are eternally in shadow. And because they’re in shadow, they can be hundreds of degrees below zero. Water could form ice in these craters that could last for millions of years. Once again, finding out if there’s ice on Mercury will be one of MESSENGER’s missions. Mercury for a Millennia Unlike Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, which were discovered in the last few hundred years, ancient peoples have known about Mercury for thousands of years. There are recorded observations of Mercury made by the ancient Greeks and Romans; they named it after the god Hermes, who pulled the Sun across the sky. It has an Atmosphere? Mercury is so small that it has too little gravity to hold an atmosphere like Earth or Venus. But it does have a tenuous atmosphere of hydrogen, helium, oxygen, sodium, calcium and potassium around it. They don’t form a stable atmosphere. Instead, there’s a constant flow of these atoms into orbit around Mercury, and then the Sun’s solar wind blasts it away into space. The Most Eccentric Orbit of All! Now that Pluto is no longer a planet, Mercury takes the record for the most eccentric orbit. This means that its orbit is an ellipse, varying its distance to the Sun. At its closest point, Mercury gets to within 46 million km, and then it ranges out to 70 million km from the Sun. Magnetic Field During its closest flyby, Mariner 10 detected a faint magnetic field around Mercury. This magnetic field is very similar to the one we have on the Earth, which protects are planet from the Sun’s solar wind. Since Mercury cooled down a long time ago, it can’t have the kind of dynamo running inside the Earth. So where’s the magnetic field coming from? This is one of the big questions that NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft will try to answer. Venus Earth's Twin? Well, perhaps you could consider it the Earth’s evil twin. Earth and Venus have very similar size and mass, and they orbit the Sun close to the Sun in very similar orbits. The size of Venus is only 650 km less than the size of Earth, and the mass of Venus is 81.5% the mass of the Earth. Backwards Venus rotates very slowly. While a day on Earth takes just 24 hours to complete, a day on Venus is 243 of our Earth days. Even stranger, Venus rotates backwards compared to all the other planets in the Solar System. If you could fly up above the Solar System and then look down at the planets, all of them are turning in a counter-clockwise direction. Except Venus. It’s rotating in a clockwise direction Volcanos but no Craters While the surface of Mercury, Mars and the Moon are pounded with impact craters, the surface of Venus has relatively few craters. Planetary scientists estimate that the surface of Venus is only half a billion years old. The constant volcanism reshapes the surface, covering over any impact craters regularly A Hostile Atmosphere As we said earlier above, Venus is like the Earth’s evil twin. Although it’s similar in size and mass to the Earth, the atmosphere of Venus sets it apart. The mass of the atmosphere is 93 times that of the Earth’s atmosphere. If you could stand on the surface of Venus, you would experience 92 times the pressure you have on Earth. This is the same as going nearly a kilometer underneath the surface of the ocean Bright, Bright, BRIGHT!! Astronomers measure the brightness of objects in the night sky by their magnitude. Only the Sun and the Moon are brighter than Venus. Its brightness can range between -3.8 to -4.6 magnitude, but it’s always brighter than the brightest stars in the sky. Phases of Venus Although Venus just looks like a really bright star in the sky, if you can see it with a telescope, you’ll see something much different. When looking through a telescope, you can see that Venus goes through phases, like the Moon. When Venus is closest, at its brightest, it actually makes a thin crescent. And then, when Venus is dimmest and furthest away, you see more of a circle. Mars... Water on Mars?? Mars might not have oceans, rivers and lakes, but NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft detected huge deposits of water underneath the surface, across the planet – in the form of ice. The Phoenix mission has arrived on Mars to search for ice underneath the soil at the northern polar cap. It has all the tools on board to analyze the water ice to see if has any traces current or ancient life. Taller than Mt. Everest? The tallest mountain in the Solar System is the mighty Olympus Mons on Mars. It rises up 27 kilometers above the surrounding plains. Olympus Mons is a shield volcano, like Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, and formed gradually over billions of years. Some lava flows on the volcano are so young that planetary scientists think that it might still be active Mars on Earth??? Both Earth and Mars have been slammed by large asteroids in the past. Although most of the debris kicked up by the impact falls back down on to the planet, some of it can be ejected so quickly that it escapes Mars entirely. These ejected meteorites can orbit the Solar System for millions of years before they finally crash down on other worlds. Some have crashed on Earth, and been identified by scientists. Tiny amounts of Mars’ atmosphere were trapped in the meteorites, and this is how scientists were able to study the Martian atmosphere before sending the first spacecraft. CRASH!!! Mars has two, tiny asteroid-sized moons called Phobos and Deimos. Phobos orbits the planet at such a low altitude that it’s going to eventually be torn apart by the gravity of Mars. It will survive as a ring for a few years, and then the debris will rain down on Mars. Scientists disagree on when this will happen. It could happen as soon as 10 million years from now, and no later than 50 million years. No Atmoshere??? If you tried to stand out on the surface of Mars without a spacesuit, you would die almost immediately. The freezing cold temperatures would be a problem, but even worse is the thin atmosphere. The air pressure at the surface of Mars is only 1% the pressure we enjoy here on Earth. And the atmosphere on Mars consists of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon and trace amounts of water and oxygen. The Longest Deepest Canyon! One of the most distinct features on the surface of Mars is the Valles Marineris canyon. It stretches 4,000 km along the equator of Mars, and can be as deep as 7 km in places. If you could move the Valles Marineris to Earth, it would stretch right across the United States. Jupiter... Never a Star Astronomers call Jupiter a failed star, but that’s not really appropriate. It’s like saying your house is a failed skyscraper. Stars generate their energy through the fusion of mass together. Their enormous gravity creates heat and pressure inside the star so that atoms of hydrogen are fused together to create helium – releasing heat in the process. Jupiter would need more than 70 times its current mass to ignite nuclear fusion. If you could crash dozens of Jupiters together, you might have a chance to make a new star The Fastest For all its size and mass, Jupiter sure moves quickly. In fact, the planet only takes about 10 hours to complete a full rotation on its axis. And because it’s spinning so rapidly, the planet has flattened out a little and is bulging at its equator. In fact, points on Jupiter’s equator are more than 4,600 km further from the center than the poles. This rapid rotation also helps generate Jupiter’s powerful magnetic fields, and contribute to the dangerous radiation surrounding it. The Rings of Jupiter The rings around Jupiter were the third set of rings discovered in the Solar System, after Saturn (of course) and Uranus. Jupiter’s rings are fainter than Saturn’s, but they probably come from material ejected by its moons when they’re struck by meteorite impacts. 63 Moons? At the time that I’m writing this, Jupiter has a total of 63 named satellites. Almost all of them are less than 10 kilometers in diameter, and were only discovered after 1975, when the first spacecraft arrived at Jupiter. One of its moons, Ganymede, is the largest satellite in the Solar System, measuring 5262 km across. The Great Red Spot The Great Red Spot on Jupiter is one of its most familiar features. And it looks like the spot has been around for almost 350 years. It was first identified by Giovanni Cassini, who mentioned it back in 1665. A century ago, the Great Red Spot measured 40,000 km across, but it’s shrinking – it’s currently half that size. But astronomers have no idea if and when it’ll ever disappear entirely. Jupiter's Clouds That’s right, all those beautiful whirling clouds and storms you see on Jupiter are only about 50 km thick. They’re made of ammonia crystals broken up into two different cloud decks. The darker material is thought to be compounds brought up from deeper inside Jupiter, and then change color in sunlight. But below those clouds, it’s just hydrogen and helium, all the way down. Saturn Flattened Saturn spins so quickly on its axis that the planet flattens itself out. While the distance from the center to the poles is 54,000 km, the distance from the center to the equator is 60,300 km. In other words, locations on the equator are approximately 6,300 km more distant from the center than the poles. The Least Dense Saturn has a density of 0.687 grams/cubic centimeter. Just for comparison, water is 1 g/cm3 and the Earth is 5.52. Since Saturn is less dense than water, it would actually float like an apple if you could find a pool large enough 60 Moons? Jupiter has 63 discovered moons, but Saturn is a close second with 60. Some of these are large, like Titan, the second largest moon in the Solar System. But most are tiny – just a few km across. In fact, the last 4 were discovered by NASA’s Cassini orbiter just a few years ago. More will probably be discovered in the coming years. Rings or Moons? When Galileo first turned his rudimentary telescope on Saturn in 1610, he could see Saturn and its rings, but he didn’t know what he was looking at. He though that the rings might actually be two large moons stuck to either side of Saturn. It wasn’t until Cristian Huygens used a better telescope to realize that Saturn actually had its famous rings The Young and the Old It’s possible that Saturn’s rings have been around since the beginning of the Solar System – almost 4.6 billion years ago. They have been created when a 300 km ice moon was torn apart by Saturn’s gravity, and formed a ring around the planet. It’s also possible that they’re the left over material when Saturn formed in the solar nebula. But astronomers have also found that the ring material looks just too clean to have formed so long ago, and could be as young as 100 million years old. It’s all just a big mystery. Uranus It "Fell Over" All of the planets in the Solar System rotate on their axis, with a tilt that’s similar to the Sun. Sure, the planets are a little tilted. For example, the axis of the Earth’s rotation is tilted 23.5-degrees away from the Sun’s plane; and Mars is similar. But the tilt of Uranus is 99-degrees. In other words, the planet is rotating on its side. All the planets look a bit like spinning top as they go around the Sun, but Uranus looks more like a sphere rolling on its side. It has Rings Too Obviously Saturn has rings; you can see them in any backyard telescope. But Uranus has the second most dramatic set of rings in the Solar System. Unlike Saturn’s particles which are made of bright ice, the rings of Uranus are very dark. They’re also narrow, only measuring a few km wide. Astronomers think that the rings of Uranus are very young, and probably formed relatively recently, and not with the planet. Boring??? Seen in visible light, Uranus is a boring blue ball. You can’t see the amazing bands of clouds and storms that we see on Jupiter and Saturn. But look closer in other wavelengths, like infrared, and you’ll see that Uranus does have bands and cloud patterns. Early observations of Uranus didn’t show anything, but improved telescopes in the 1990s showed that Uranus has bright regions in its atmosphere. Some of these clouds only last for hours, while others have been around since the Voyager flyby in 1986. Astronomers have also been able to chart the wind speeds on Uranus, and have found they can 250 m/s. 27 Moons Like all of the giant planets, Uranus has its share of moons. Astronomers now count 27 natural satellites. But they’re actually a pretty lightweight group of moons. If you could add up all their mass, they would account for less than half the mass of Triton, Neptune’s largest moon. The largest moon, Titania, has a diameter of about half the diameter of the Earth’s moon. 1 Time Only Only one spacecraft in the history of spaceflight has ever made a close approach to Uranus. NASA’s Voyager 2 zipped pass Uranus in January, 1986, coming within 81,000 km of the surface of Uranus. It took thousands of photographs of Uranus and its moons, and then sped off onto towards its next target: Neptune. No other spacecraft have ever been sent towards Uranus, and there are no plans to send any more. A "win win" Situation A day on Uranus is only about 17 hours. But the tilt of Uranus works out so that one pole or the other is usually pointed towards the Sun. This means that a day at the north pole of Uranus lasts half of a Uranian year – 84 Earth years. So, if you could stand on the north pole of Uranus, you would see the Sun rise in the sky, circle around for 42 years, and finally dip down below the horizon. Then you would have 42 years of darkness. The Smallest With an equatorial radius of only 24,764 km, Neptune is smaller than the other gas giants in the Solar System: Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. But here’s the funny thing, Neptune is actually more massive than Uranus by about 18%. Since it’s smaller but more massive, Neptune is much more dense than Uranus. Blown Away Think a hurricane is scary? Imagine a hurricane with winds that go up to 2,100 km/hour. As you can probably imagine, scientists are puzzled how an icy cold planet like Neptune can get its cloud tops moving so fast. One idea is that the cold temperatures and the flow of fluid gasses in the planet’s atmosphere might reduce friction to the point that it’s easy to generate winds that move so quickly Brrrrrrrrrr At the top of its clouds, temperatures on Neptune can dip down to 51.7 Kelvin, or -221.4 degrees Celsius. That’s cold! Pluto gets colder, but then, Pluto isn’t a planet any more COLDER!!! There are many cold places in the Solar System, but one of the coldest is the surface of Neptune’s moon Triton. This is the largest of Neptune’s 13 moons, and the only one with enough mass and gravity to pull itself into a sphere. In fact, it’s the 7th largest moon in the Solar System. Temperatures on the surface of Triton can dip down to only 38 Kelvin or – 235 degrees Celsius. But even though it’s incredibly cold, the surface of Triton is very active. During its 1989 flyby, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft observed volcanoes or geysers erupting liquid nitrogen. Only Once The only spacecraft that has ever visited Neptune was NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft, which visited the planet during its Grand Tour of the Solar System. Voyager 2 made its Neptune flyby on August 25, 1989, passing within 3,000 km of the planet’s north pole. This was the closest approach to any object that Voyager 2 made since it was launched from Earth. During its flyby, Voyager 2 studied Neptune’s atmosphere, its rings, magnetosphere. It also made observations of Neptune’s moons. Captured Neptune’s largest Moon, Triton, orbits in a retrograde orbit. that’s means that it orbits around the planet backwards compared to the other moons that orbit Neptune. This means that Neptune probably captured Triton; the moon didn’t form in place like the rest of Neptune’s moons. Triton is locked into a synchronous rotation with Neptune and is slowly spiraling inward towards the planet. At some point, billions of years from now, it’ll be torn apart by Neptune’s gravitational forces and become a magnificent ring around the planet. And then the ring will be pulled inward to crash into the planet. It would be amazing to watch. Neptune Only 3 You might have heard that Pluto has a large moon called Charon (more on that later), but did you know that it actually has 3 moons in total. Charon is the large one, with a mass of roughly half that of Pluto’s Geysers on the Moon In the last few years, astronomers have discovered that several objects in the Solar System have ice geysers, including Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and maybe several others as well. But Pluto’s moon Charon could have them too. Closer than Neptune For most of its orbit, Pluto is more distant than Neptune, reaching out as far as 49 astronomical units (49 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun). But it has such an eccentric, elliptical orbit that it gets much closer, reaching a mere 29 AU. And during that time, it’s actually orbiting within the orbit of Neptune. The last time Pluto and Neptune made this switch was between February 7, 1979 and February 11, 1999. And give it another couple of hundred years and it’ll happen again. Not a Dog If you think Pluto is named after a Disney character, you’re wrong. It’s actually named after the Roman god of the underworld. And Charon is the ferryman who carries souls across the river Styx. Not Cleared Out Although Pluto orbits the Sun and it’s round, it’s not a planet. And that’s because Pluto hasn’t cleared out its orbit of material. This was the reason that the International Astronomical Union chose to demote it from planet to dwarf planet in 2006 It has an Atmosphere Even though Pluto’s average temperature averages a mere 44 degrees above absolute zero, the dwarf planet has an atmosphere. Not an atmosphere as we know it, but an atmosphere, none the less (This model is not to scale) We know of some amazingly large and bright stars, like Eta Carina and Betelgeuse. But they’re incredibly far away. Our own Sun is a relatively bright star. If you could take the 50 closest stars within 17 light-years of the Earth, the Sun would be the 4th brightest star in absolute terms. Not bad at all. And Beyond... Pluto
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