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THE SOLAR SYSTEM

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Jenny Lowell

on 21 May 2015

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Transcript of THE SOLAR SYSTEM

a multimedia scrapbook project by
JENNY LOWELL
p. 3 astronomy
PRETTY CRAZY, HUH?
that whole series of circles out there?
that's the
solar system
.
a collection of
eight planets, a belt of asteroids,
and a whole bunch of other
celestial bodies
like
comets
and
dwarf planets
orbiting a
single star
, over 80 A.U.s or seven
billion
miles wide.
and the crazier thing?
seven billion miles wide
isn't even that big.
this is our galaxy, the milky way. it's pretty big. to put it in perspective,
one light year
is the equivalent of
63,239.7263 A.U.
just
one
light year is
790 times bigger
than our whole solar system.
and that's us, right there.
and that's not even the entire thing. there's also the
kuiper belt
and the
oort cloud,
several billion miles from neptune, the
furthest planet from the sun
.
as we all know from hitchhiker's guide:
space is vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big.

let's take a little trip, shall we?
the most commonly- accepted theory in the present is the
nebula theory
, which states that a mass cloud of matter condensed until it grew so hot that it
exploded
and formed the sun, expelling the rest of the matter out to become the
planets
and
other celestial objects,
which were quickly caught by the star's gravity.
how'd these crazy kids get here, anyways?
starting with...
(
here's a real picture
)
The very center of our solar system, in all its incredibly, terrifyingly, massive, mega-heated glory.
When we take it apart....
...it looks more like this.
(don't ask how people know this stuff, i don't know if they fired a couple probes or humans into it or what)
also, the sun is scary.
In addition to spewing deadly UV rays and burning hotter than the
deepest infernos of Hell itself
(the Sun's surface is
5,778°K
or
10,000°F
),
it emits jets of concentrated demonic heat energy, called
solar flares
, that could
swallow the asteroid belt whole and use the rest for toothpicks.
This one can fit one million earths in its length.
One million
.
sunspots
are another phenomenon unique to the Sun, where one spot will appear
visibly darker
than the areas around it.
This is due to fluctuations in the magnetic field that put pressure on one area in the Sun's
photosphere
and cause it to become cooler.
And, yes, they're also massive.
sunspots compared to the earth, and then to the sun.
solar weather
on the other hand, refers to the actual
solar

wind
caused by
variable fluctuations
in the Sun's
magnetosphere, ionosphere
, and
thermosphere
, especially how those fluctuations concern the lives of us on Earth --
or, in other words, whether or not we should be worried about those
massive, scary solar flares
or not.
Solar winds always affect us, whether it's by streaking pretty magnetic lights across the atmosphere or bathing us in radiation.
let's move on to...
which looks a little something like this
or, if dissected:
it is thankfully very simple in its composition, and contains all the characteristics of a terrestrial planet (
i.e., it's got ROCK on it!
).
STATISTICS TIME
Being the smallest of the inner terrestrial planets, it tends to have smaller stats than the rest. (It's okay, size isn't everything.)
DIAMETER
AV. DIST. FROM SUN
PERIOD OF REVOLUTION
PERIOD OF ROTATION
ORBITAL ECCENTRICITY
TEMP. RANGE
DENSITY (g/cm³)
3,032 miles (4,879 km)
35,980,000 miles (57,910,000 km)
0.240846 yrs (88 days)
58d
0.205
173 °C (280 °F) - 427 °C (800 °F)
5.427
AXIAL TILT
2.04' ± 0.08'
GRAVITY (COMPARED TO EARTH)
0.37x Earth's gravity (3.7 m/s²)
MASS (COMPARED TO EARTH)
0.055x Earth's mass (328.5E21 kg)
DISCOVERED
265 BC by Timocharis (first
recorded)
FEATURES
atmosphere:
Has a "replacement" atmosphere, called an exosphere, made of gases and particles from meteroid collisions and solar wind. Contains small amounts of hydrogen, helium, and oxygen, and even tinier amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
surface:
Marred with tons of craters and baked by the Sun because of its proximity. It has the highest surface temperature range of any of the planets, reaching from -173 °C at night and 427 °C during the day.
composition:
The bare minimum for terrestrial planets: iron-nickel core and thin silicate crust.
notable:
While its temperature ranges, tiny size, and proximity to the sun make Mercury noteworthy, it is also the only other solid planet besides Earth known to have its own magnetic field. It also has no moons, and no real atmosphere, being so close to the Sun that an atmosphere would burn up immediately.
now it's time for...
let's have a peek
kind of mean-looking, honestly.
i mean, come on. "sulfuric acid" is a prominent layer.
STATISTICS
At first glance, Venus looks very similar to Earth, and has actually been nicknamed its twin due to its similar size and proximity to the Sun.
DIAMETER
7521.08 miles (12,104 km)
AV. DIST. FROM SUN
67,233,000 miles (108,200,000 km)
PERIOD OF REVOLUTION
224.7 days
PERIOD OF ROTATION
243 days
ORBITAL ECCENTRICITY
0.00677
TEMP. RANGE
484 °C (872 °F)
DENSITY (g/cm³)
5.25
AXIAL TILT
177'
GRAVITY (COMPARED TO EARTH)
0.88x Earth's gravity (8.87 m/s²)
MASS (COMPARED TO EARTH)
0.815x Earth's mass (4.867E24 kg)
DISCOVERED
Ancient Babylonia 1581 BC (earliest recorded)
FEATURES
atmosphere:
Turbulent and dense, Venus's atmosphere is made up primarily of carbon dioxide, with traces of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide, argon, and carbon monoxide. This thick layer of primarily greenhouse gases not only makes nearly impossible to see the surface, it also traps heat inside, leaving little to no room for temperature variation. It is also surprisingly violent for how slowly the planet rotates, with winds reaching up to 360km/hr, fifty times faster than Venus itself. Oh, and, it
rains sulphuric acid.
So that's a thing.
surface:
One word:
volcanoes.
Vast plains of lava flow, huge shield volcanoes, and special types of disc-like volcanoes called pancake domes cover its surface. However, despite the numbers, volcanic activity is ambiguous -- most of them may be extinct, save for Venus's tallest volcano, Maat Mons (pictured left), which appears to have ash flows near the summit. There are also far fewer impact craters on the surface than scientists expected to find, and those that exist are fairly fresh, so therein lies evidence to suggest that the volcanoes on Venus erupt frequently enough to cover most craters. In any case, it makes for another good reason as to why Venus is so hot.
notable:
moons:
Thick clouds of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide coat the extremely turbulent atmosphere. It rains sulphuric acid. The axial tilt is completely upside-down to the rest of the planets as well. It's about the same size and density as Earth, giving it its nickname as our sister planet.
While Venus currently has no known moons, the astronomer Giovanni Cassini reported seeing a small object orbiting Venus in 1672. Several other astronomers reported seeing the same object in following years, all the way up to 1777, although some had troubling seeing anything around Venus. This moon, named Neith, was never actually proven or disproven to exist, although in the 1880s, Jean-Charles Houzeau and the Belgian Academy of Sciences each tried to explain the sightings as misidentified planets or stars, respectively.
EXPEDITIONS
Venera Space Probes
The Venera Space Probes were a series of probes sent to Venus from the Soviet Union.
After several failed attempts, Venera 4 became the first probe to successfully send back information from Venus's atmosphere in 1967.
Venera 7 (1970) was the first probe to make a landing on Venus's surface and successfully send data back.
Venera 9 (1975) was the first probe to send back a picture from the surface.
Venera 13 (1982), the most famous of the Venera probes, was the first to send color pictures back from the surface of Venus.
Magellan
Seven years after Venera 13, NASA launched the Magellan Space Probe to map out the surface of Venus.
It was hugely successful, taking very high-resolution maps all around the planet. The probe also took note of topography and electrical characteristics.
In 1994, the probe plunged into the atmosphere and burnt up, ending the mission in a spectacular fashion.
LOOK, IT'S US!
so cute...
that core is iron-nickel, as most terrestrial planets have.
DIAMETER
7,918 miles (12,742 km)
AV. DIST. FROM SUN
92,900,000 miles (149,500,000 km)
PERIOD OF REVOLUTION
365 days
PERIOD OF ROTATION
24 hours
ORBITAL ECCENTRICITY
0.0167
TEMP. RANGE
58 °C (136 °F) - -88 °C (-126 °F)
DENSITY (g/cm³)
5.51
AXIAL TILT
23.4'
GRAVITY
9.807 m/s²
MASS
5.972E24 kg
STATISTICS
SEASONS
The tilt of the Earth's axis is perfectly aligned for the sun to shine on specific spots in each hemisphere as it orbits, which creates the seasons we know today.
FEATURES
atmosphere:
The Earth is one of few planets with a very complex atmosphere -- though made up of only nitrogen and oxygen, it has many layers, all which serve different purposes.
The troposphere is the lowest layer. It accounts for 3/4ths of the atmosphere's mass and 99% of its water vapors, and is where all weather occurs.
The stratosphere, second lowest, contains the ozone layer, which absorbs heat from the Sun's rays for us.
The mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere are all outside the main mass of the atmosphere. These absorb UV rays, radiation, electromagnetic pulses, and some of the energy from the sun and other planets.

surface:
Earth, as we know it today, contains a vast variety of surface features that few other planets hold a candle to. Most of it is covered in water, something rarely in liquid form outside the planet, and has mountains, deserts, plains, swamplands, forests, and, most notably, cities.
composition:
As we know, the Earth has several layers that make up its structure. The crust is the most notable, being rich with minerals and elements of all kinds, but it is extremely thin -- about the thickness of a sheet of paper on a basketball, in comparison. The rest is superheated metal and rock, mostly iron and nickel, which creates our gravity and magnetic field. This includes the upper mantle, where most magma is found, the lower mantle, the outer core, which is completely liquid, and the inner core, which is solid.
notable:
Probably the most notable thing about Earth is that it is the only known celestial object to host life in most of the galaxy and probably the universe. It also has a
huge
magnetic field for a terrestial planet, volcanic activity, one of the most complex and unpredictable weather systems in the known universe, the biggest moon comparative to its size, and water. Water is always good.
moons:
We only have one moon, but it's special enough to get its own section. It's very abnormal as far as moons go; it's composed of baked material that has similar elements, yet different composition from the Earth's crust. Additionally, it is placed in the exact correct spot to stabilize our axial rotation, control our oceanic tides, and come between the sun and Earth or get caught behind both the Earth and the Sun to create eclipses, though it's moving away from us a about two centimeters per year. It's also very big in comparison to our planet -- bigger than Pluto. We can only see one side of it at any given time because it's locked in orbit, spinning at the exact same rate that it orbits the planet. It is riddled with craters, lunar seas, and remarkable highlands. More details to come.
HOW DID WE GET LIFE?
As we understand it, Earth is within the "Goldilocks" zone, or habitable area of a star. Named after the the tale of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", this zone is within the range of the star where nothing is too hot or too cold -- "just right", as it were.
This allows liquid water to exist, which -- as scientists currently understand it -- is essential to carbon-based life.

Although there are many planets which exist in the Goldilocks zone in other systems, some of them are inhabitable, such as gas giants or the like.
GLORIOUS!
Here's this beautiful little anamoly we like to call the moon, with the side we can see at all times.
THE INSIDES
This is most likely what the moon's internal structure looks like.
(There is evidence pointing to it being hollow, but that is generally passed off as conspiracy.)
PHASES
Because the moon is locked in orbit with us, we only see one side, even though it's always moving and different amounts of sunlight are shining on it. This creates the phenomenon of "phases", where certain sections of the moon are visible based on where it is in relation to the sun and the Earth.
ORIGINS
This crazy thing had to come from somewhere, and people have been trying to figure out
where
and
how
for ages.
Theories that have been proposed, but debunked, include:
The Fission Theory
: states that early Earth spun so fast that a large chunk of it blobbed off and made the moon. The Earth doesn't spin fast enough now for that to be true.
The Co-Accretion Theory
: states that the Earth and the moon were created together at the same time. This is false because the moon has a different surface composition.
The Capture Theory:
states that the moon was a passing object that caught in Earth's gravity. This doesn't work because the moon is too big and gravity too weak to catch it.
Currently, the most widely-accepted theory for the moon's formation is the Giant Impact Theory, which states that a protoplanet about the size of Mars smashed into early Earth, and the debris formed into a new Earth and its very own moon.
THE RED PLANET
DIAMETER
AV. DIST. FROM SUN
PERIOD OF REVOLUTION
PERIOD OF ROTATION
ORBITAL ECCENTRICITY
TEMP. RANGE
DENSITY (g/cm³)
4,212 miles (6,779 km
141,600,000 miles (227,900,000 km)
687d
1.04d
0.0934
27 °C (80 °F) , -133 °C (-207 °F)
3.93
AXIAL TILT
25.19'
GRAVITY (COMPARED TO EARTH)
0.37x Earth's gravity (3.7 m/s²)
MASS (COMPARED TO EARTH)
0.107x Earth's mass (639E21 kg)
DISCOVERED
Prehistory
STATISTICS
FEATURES
atmosphere:
surface:
notable:
composition:
The red planet does, in fact, have an atmosphere. It's made of about 95.3% carbon dioxide (CO2) and 2.7% nitrogen, although it is thin -- about 100 times thinner than Earth's atmosphere. This means it cannot support weather, and it can't trap in and distribute heat across its entire surface area, making the days and nights cold.
Several probes sent to Mars have uncovered volcanic ash and a thin layer of dust across the whole planet, such as the moon has, likely from meteorite impacts. These impacts left craters all over the surface -- however, Mars also has mountains and valleys. Olympus Mons, pictured left, is a huge dome volcano three times as tall as Mount Everest; Mariner Valley is a massive canyon system that runs across 4000 km (2500 mi) of space and can be seen from space. It has polar ice caps made of water, but very little evidence of life.
As mentioned, Mars is covered with a thin layer of iron oxide dust, under which it hosts a 50km (30mi)-thick crust made of volcanic basalt rock, rich with minerals like sodium and magnesium. Since Mars has one solid crust, and no tectonic plates like Earth, volcanic eruptions are massive and highly pressurized. The mantle is relatively inactive, and made of silicon, iron, and a bit of oxygen. The core, as most terrestrial planets have, is solid iron-nickel -- however, it doesn't move enough to create a magnetic field.
Likely, the first thing you think of when you think about Mars is its red or tungsten color. This is due to tons of iron oxide present in the dust on Mars's surface -- in other words, the entire planet is rusty. Also notable, though less well-known, is the planet's axial tilt, which is very similar to Earth and, in fact, gives Mars all four seasons that Earth also experiences. There has been a long debate about whether or not Mars did, or could, sustain life, based on the presence of water, strange surface markings, and mineral-rich soil. Percival Lowell popularized this idea with a theory that canals on Mars were made as irrigation pits, and, fun fact, I am directly related to him. (He'll come up later, too.)
EXPEDITIONS
Viking 1 and 2
Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Pathfinder
Mars Odyssey
Spirit and Opportunity Rovers
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
1975, NASA
Two probes were sent to Mars to observe. Each probe consisted of an orbiter and lander, each of which would take full pictures of the planet and analyze conditions they found, such as soil, temperature, moisture, and so on.
What they discovered changed scientists' idea of Mars. They found volcanic plains, canyon systems, wind-eroded landmarks, and water in the form of polar ice caps. The beginning of our exploration of Mars had its running start.
1996-2006, NASA
After 20 years of unsuccessful Mars missions, NASA launched a satellite to Mars in order to continue recording it. The probe orbited the planet from pole to pole and sent back crucial and striking information about its surface.
The MGS gave us a definitive idea about topography, seasons, gravity, magnetic properties, and the atmosphere. The most astonishing discovery, however, revealed several water flow features that suggested there might have been liquid water on the surface of Mars. The probe went silent in 2006, but left us with endless material to question and examine further.
1996-1998, NASA
Also in 1996, NASA engineered a little probe called Pathfinder. While it was purposed to land on and analyze the surface, its main objective was to test an engineering prototype for landing future missions to Mars.
The mission and design of the probe was unbelievably successful. Both the lander and the rover inside, Sojourner, lived far past their expected lifetimes of several days to a month. Pathfinder returned over 16,000 pictures and extensive chemical analyses of rocks and weather patterns before it went silent in September of 1997.
2001-PRESENT, NASA
Still in operation, the Mars Odyssey is another satellite like the MGS which sends back information about topography, geology, and surface conditions from above the planet. It has given us a lot of insight on topography, as well as where water ice might exist under the surface. According to its NASA webpage, it also serves as a communication relay for the rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Speaking of which...
2003-PRESENT, NASA
You can never analyze Martian rocks too much.
Twin rovers,
Spirit
and
Opportunity
, were sent to Mars in 2003 to help uncover the secrets of water and minerals trapped in its surface. Each rover is equipped with several cameras, a micro-imaging device for extreme close-ups, a drill for uncovering layers of rock and dust, and chemical analysis tools. The original time slot for the expedition was 90 Martian days (Sol), but because they continued to exceed expectations, they are still in use today and continue to send back incredible data.
They have run into a couple problems --
Spirit
has worn down its drill and broke a wheel, requiring it to be driven backwards, and
Opportunity
got trapped in a sand dune for over a month -- but these are only minor, slightly amusing setbacks than real problems, since they continue to operate exceptionally.
2005-PRESENT, NASA
Whereas previous missions and rovers were sent to find the potential of water, but mostly to explore the surface, the MRO is designed for the sole purpose of finding water or evidence thereof on the surface, or below the surface, of Mars. Equipped with an extremely powerful camera and sounding devices, scientists hope that the Orbiter can send back evidence of mineral deposits or other water flow structures that can prove or lead to more evidence of water existing on Mars.
PHOBOS AND DEIMOS
Mars, not to to be outdone, has two tiny moons named Phobos and Deimos. Both were discovered in 1877 by Asaph Hall, and are thought to be captured asteroids, due to their irregular shape and small size.
Keeping with the mythology style of naming celestial objects, these two moons are named after the characters from Greek mythology, Panic (Phobos) and Terror (Deimos), who were Ares' right-hand men and sons -- Ares, of course, being the Greek god of war, and the equivalent to the Roman god Mars. Who else?
this is where you find the asteroids. crazy, i know. it's in between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and stretches all the way around an entire elliptical orbit -- thus, why it's a "belt".
Full transcript