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How Planets Work. Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of an Acme planet, the finest planets in the galaxy. Whether it's a rocky terrestrial planet,

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Presentation on theme: "How Planets Work. Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of an Acme planet, the finest planets in the galaxy. Whether it's a rocky terrestrial planet,"— Presentation transcript:

1 How Planets Work

2 Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of an Acme planet, the finest planets in the galaxy. Whether it's a rocky terrestrial planet, a gas giant, or an ice planet, your Acme planet is guaranteed to give you billions of years of satisfaction.

3 Your planet comes with a durable factory finish. You can keep the finish pristine for eons by following a few simple rules. Protect the surface from harsh abrasives like large impacting asteroids. Avoid sources of excessive heat, like exploding supernovae. Melting or vaporizing your planet voids the warranty.

4 If your planet is stored in a moderate temperature setting, it may become coated with a thin film of liquid water. This is normal and does not constitute a malfunction. Cooler parts of your planet may become coated with frozen water, this too is normal and does not constitute a malfunction. Under some circumstances, your planet may become covered with a thin greenish film called life. Connoisseurs consider this the best part.

5 Important Points 1.Bulk Density 2.Shape of Planets 3.Planetary Interiors 4.Atmospheres 5.Oceans 6.Coordinates 7.Names 8.What is a Planet?

6 Bulk Density Bulk density = Mass/Volume = gm/cc = kg/m 3 1 gm/cc = 1000 kg/m 3 Volume determined from dimensions Mass determined from gravitational pull – Effect on other bodies – Effects on spacecraft 1. Bulk Density

7 Bulk Density <1 gm/cc (1000 kg/m 3 ) – Small body: Probably ice with a lot of void space – Giant planet: Mostly gases. – Saturn, 0.7 gm/cc (700 kg/m 3 ) is light enough to float. 1-3 gm/cc ( kg/m 3 ) – Small bodies: Mixtures of ice and rock – Large planets: Mostly gases with dense cores. 3-5 gm/cc ( kg/m 3 ) – Rock, possibly with a denser core of metal. >5 gm/cc (5000 kg/m 3 ) – Rock, with a large dense core of metal. 1. Bulk Density

8 Why Are Planets Round? Planets are round because of gravity. Gravity pulls everything inward toward the center of a planet Large hills would flatten under their weight and material would flow into depressions Earth in proportion to its size is smoother than a billiard ball Depending on materials, non-round objects can be up to a few hundred kilometers across. 2. Shapes of Planets

9 How Gravity Rounds Planets

10 Equatorial Bulges Rotating planets bulge at the equator due to centrifugal force The earth's equatorial bulge is 1/298 of its diameter – Radius at the equator is about 11 kilometers more than at the poles. – Chimborazo (Ecuador) and Huascaran (Peru) are the farthest points from the center of the Earth, not Mount Everest. Jupiter and Saturn have 10% bulges 2. Shapes of Planets

11 Planetary Interiors Gravity pulls dense materials toward centers Satellites and close flybys allow detection of deep masses of material Moment of inertia is a measure of how material is concentrated in a planet – Shows up in precession of planets – Affects exact size and shape of equatorial bulge 3. Planetary Interiors

12 Atmospheres Atoms in space follow the same laws of physics as planets If they hit escape velocity, they can escape a planet Can a planet retain an atmosphere? – Escape velocity (Determined by mass) – Temperature (Determines speed of atoms) – Stripping 4. Atmospheres

13 Oceans Its never too cold for solids, never too hot for gases Liquids exist only in a restricted temperature range At low pressures, its easier for liquids to evaporate – Oceans cannot exist without atmospheres Oceans, lakes and seas are probably rare in the Universe – Only known on Earth and Titan 5. Oceans

14 Sea Level How do we know where sea level would be under Mount Everest? – We use a mathematical description of earths shape called the geoid – Now determined from satellite data On waterless planets, we use the average radius of the planet Earths average elevation is 2.5 km below sea level 6. Coordinates

15 Latitude and Longitude Latitude defined by rotation axis Free-rotating planets have arbitrary zero longitude – Usually defined by longitude facing Earth at some specified time Satellites locked to their parent planets – Zero longitude is the longitude facing the planet – Usually 0,0 is directly under the planet N,E are positive; S, W are negative 6. Coordinates

16 Names Set by a commission of the International Astronomical Union Names (so far) are recognized by the various spacefaring nations. Features cannot be named after living people or people dead less than three years. Features cannot be named for political figures after Features cannot be named for any religious figures from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or Confucianism. 7. Names on Planets

17 Planetary Geographical Features Latin names. Latin is traditional, apolitical, and the closest thing to a universal language in history Linea (Line) Line or band Macula (Spot) Dark spot Mons (Mountain) Mountain, plural Montes Planitia (Plain) Low plain, basin Planum (Plain) Plateau Regio (Region) Region Rupes (Cliff) Cliff or scarp Vallis (Valley) Valley 7. Names on Planets

18 What is a Planet? Ancient: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn Copernicus and Kepler: Earth in, Sun and Moon out Uranus (1781), Ceres (1801)… New Class created: Minor Planets Neptune (1846), Pluto (1930), Kuiper Belt (1992) 2007: New Class created: Dwarf Planets 8. What is a Planet?

19 What is a Planet? Planet: – Round because of gravity – Massive enough to clear its neighborhood of other objects Dwarf Planet: – Round because of gravity This is not Over Yet – How round is round enough? – What else is out there? 8. What is a Planet?

20 Clearing the Vicinity

21 Important Points 1.Bulk Density 2.Shape of Planets 3.Planetary Interiors 4.Atmospheres 5.Oceans 6.Coordinates 7.Names 8.What is a Planet?


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