Mars Saturn Earth Nebular Theory Essay

Pages: 4 (1761 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Astronomy

¶ … large scale features of this planet? This would include size, rotation and orbit, magnetic field and interior structure.

Mars has a polar radius of 3.37 km and an equatorial radius of 3.39 km. This is roughly half the size of the Earth. The rotation is 1.02 days and the orbit is 686 calendar days. There is no magnetic field on Mars. Instead, it has magnetic bands. These are believed to be the remnants of ancient magnetic fields at the poles of the planet. It contains a magnetic core which is composed of iron, ore, sulfur, magnesium, calcium and water. ("Quick Mars Facts," 2012) (Seidelmann, 2007) (Coffery, 2010)

What are the major surface features of the planet, and how did they develop from the four major geologic processes which shape planetary surfaces.

The surface of Mars is composed of a red soil that contains silicon, basalt, iron, nickel, ore and oxygen. About four billion years ago, it was believed that Mars consisted of tectonic plants and had a similar atmosphere to the Earth. When the planetary dynamo stopped functioning, it slowed Mars' development and temperatures gradually become colder. (Seidelmann, 2007)

What is the composition of the atmosphere, how much atmosphere is there, and how does it affect surface temperature and pressure?

The atmosphere of Mars consists of: 95% oxygen, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon and select amounts of oxygen / water. (Seidelmann, 2007)

How does the atmosphere absorb and scatter light? What structure does this produce?

Mars' atmosphere interacts directly with the solar winds. This strips away the outer layer and makes it much weaker in contrast with other planets. (Seidelmann, 2007)

What's the weather/climate like?

The weather is considered to be very cold with frequent dust storms occurring. In general, the temperatures average -63 degrees C. (Seidelmann, 2007)

What is the magnetosphere like? Are there auroras?

The magnetosphere is very weak at the pole from the lack of a magnetic field. This means that there are no visible auroras from the surface. (Seidelmann, 2007)

How did the atmosphere form, and how did it come to be the way it is today?

The atmosphere was formed through having different subatomic molecules collecting in the same place. This caused Mars to have oceans and appear to be very Earth like several billion years ago. Then, the solar winds began to slowly deplete it to the point of its current state. (Seidelmann, 2007)

Write a similar essay describing the Jovian planet of your choice (i.e. Saturn). Discuss the planets' interior structure, atmospheric properties, moons (briefly), rings, etc.

Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system. The interior structure consists primarily of hydrogen and helium. These elements are not in a gaseous form. Instead, the atmospheric pressure is greater than .01 g/cm3. This is when these compounds can change into other shapes. The interior has layers of these substances (which have been transformed into metallic sheets). The core of the planet radiates 2.5 times more energy into space than the Sun (reaching a temperature of 11,700 degrees C).

Saturn's atmosphere contains 96.3% hydrogen and 3.25% helium. There are also select amounts of ammonia, ethane, propane, phosphine and methane. Moreover, there are ammonia clouds in the upper atmosphere that is interacting with water.

Saturn has a total of 62 moons. Seven of these bodies are considered to have their own orbit and exhibit rings (which is similar to the planet itself.) the most notable include: Titan, Cassini, Rhea and Encladus. Then, there are 24 moons which have regular orbits (but are much smaller in diameter). At the same time, there are 38 moons with irregular orbits. ("The Moons of Saturn," 2010)

The rings of Saturn are 20 m in thickness and they are composed of ice, tholin and carbon. They extend from 6,630 km to 120,700 km above the equator of the planet. There are various particles of debris that make up the rings. These consist of items ranging from dust to asteroids 10 m in diameter. The outer ring extends 12 million km from the planet. Inside are two denser moons (i.e. Pan and Prometheus). Scientists believe that they serve the function of preventing the rings from spreading out farther. ("Saturn Overview," 2012)

Write an essay discussing how Earth is unique in our solar system. Include information on the following features of our planet, why they are here and why they are important to our planet's ability to support life:

Plate Tectonics

The Earth has unique features that help to support life. Plate tectonics plays an important part by ensuring that the soil is continually fertilized. This occurs when there is an earthquake which causes minerals and bacteria to come to the surface. The way that this helps to sustain life, is through continually turning the top soil (making it very rich). (Spoolman, 2011)

Surface Liquid Water

The availability of surface water ensures that a specific area could support life and develop. Moreover, this encouraged agricultural activities (leading to the evolution of civilization). This helped to support different life forms and provide a stable environment to sustain the entire ecosystem. (Spoolman, 2011)

A relatively stable climate over the long-term history of the planet.

The stable climate helped to keep temperatures constant and predictable. This made it easier to grow crops and learn the migratory / hibernation patterns of wildlife. Over the course of time, this ensured that there were enough natural resources to feed the population. When this happened, the food chain began to flourish by following and understanding these trends. (Spoolman, 2011)

Atmospheric Oxygen

Oxygen protects the Earth against some of the suns most harmful rays (via the ozone layer). This keeps the temperatures more stable. It also allows the seasons to maintain consistent patterns throughout the year for precipitation, highs / lows and adverse weather conditions. Once this takes place, an area can flourish by having a climate that is supporting the development and sustainability of life. (Spoolman, 2011)

Wrap up your essay with a discussion of whether other Earthlike planets are likely to be common or rare. Are the things that make life habitable such an unusual collection of accidents as to suggest that we are alone, or are they likely to have occurred elsewhere?

Earthlike planets are very common. This is because scientists have discovered 100 billion stars in the universe. Out of this number are hundreds of thousands of worlds which are habitable. According to NASA, 2.7% of these stars are considered to be similar to the Earth's sun. This means that the temperatures could sustain life on select planets. ("The Milky Way," 2011) (Brymer, 2010)

Evidence of this can be seen with comments from Joe Catanzarite (a scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory) who said, "There are about a hundred billion sun-like stars within the Milky Way. Two percent of those might have Earth analogs, so you have two billion Earth analog planets in the galaxy. Then you start thinking about other galaxies. There is something like 50 billion, and if each one has two billion Earthlike planets, it's mind boggling." This is illustrating how the existence of earthlike planets is considered to be very common in the universe. ("The Milky Way," 2011) (Brymer, 2010)

The different elements which make life habitable are a sign that these kinds of conditions could exist elsewhere (i.e. water, oxygen and warm temperatures). This suggests that theories, such as the unusual collection of accidents, are illustrating the different ways these factors can endure in other places. When this occurs, there is a realistic possibility that we are not alone in the universe. (Brymer, 2010)

Write an essay explaining the Nebular Theory of solar system formation, including an explanation of what we think occurred and how it explains the patterns of motion of bodies in our solar system, the two types of planets, the existence of the asteroid belt, Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud and the exceptions to the general patterns.

The Nebular Theory explains how all stars and planets are formed. This takes place in dense clouds of hydrogen (i.e. molecular clouds). The inside is unstable and has small, thick matter clumps. This causes them to collapse (which is beginnings of a star). The various gases will come together to create a proto-planetary disk. This is circular gas formation that surrounds a developing star. During this process, it serves as a central area where the energy for the sun is collected and stored. In general, the time for the creation of a new star takes around 100 million years. ("Summary," 2007) (Williams, 2010)

The reason why scientists think this occurs is based upon the formation of accretion disks. This is when interstellar materials and gas will move in a circular motion around celestial bodies. The way that this explains the bodies of motion inside the galaxy, is to highlight why the planets orbit the sun. ("Summary," 2007) (Williams, 2010)

In the case of the two planet types and asteroid belt, this is used a basic foundation for understanding how… [END OF PREVIEW]

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