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Our Solar System . Our Solar System: The Planets.

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Presentation on theme: "Our Solar System . Our Solar System: The Planets."— Presentation transcript:

1 Our Solar System 


3 Our Solar System: The Planets

4 The Sun is at the center of our Solar System. The Sun makes up 99.85% of the mass of the solar system.


6 The Planets: An Overview The Solar System  The terrestrial planets are planets that are small and rocky—Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.  The Jovian planets are the huge gas giants—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.  Pluto does not fit into either the Jovian or the terrestrial category.

7 Terrestrial Planets Mercury Venus Earth Mars

8 Jovian Planets Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune

9 The terrestrial planets are also called the Rocky or the Inner planets. The Jovian planets are also called the Giant or the Outer or the Gas planets.

10 Orbits of the Planets The Sun’s gravitational pull guides the elliptical orbits of the planets in our Solar System.

11 The Planets: An Overview The Solar System  Size is the most obvious difference between the terrestrial and Jovian planets.  Earth’s mass is 1/17 th of the mass of Neptune (the smallest Jovian planet).  Density, chemical makeup, and rate of rotation are other ways in which the two groups of planets differ.


13 Planetary Data

14 Interior Planetery Composition The planets are made of three different substances: gases, rocks, and ices.

15 Gases (hydrogen and helium) are those with melting points near absolute zero (- 273 ⁰ C).

16 Rocks are mostly silicates (silicon and oxygen) and metallic iron which have melting points above 700 ⁰ C.

17 Ices are ammonia (NH 3 ), methane (CH 4 ), carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and water (H 2 O) which have intermediate melting points.

18 The terrestrial planets are dense with mostly metallic and rocky substances. The Jovian planets are less dense with large amounts of gases and ices.


20 The Atmosphere of the Planets The Jovian planets have very thick atmospheres of hydrogen, helium, methane, and ammonia.

21 By contrast, the terrestrial planets, including Earth, have thin, meager atmospheres at best.

22 Gases can escape from its planet’s gravity if it reaches escape velocity. For Earth, escape velocity is 11 km/s. For Jovian planets, the escape velocities are between km/s. So it is more difficult for gases to escape a Jovian planet’s gravity.


24 Scale of the Planets

25 Formation of the Solar System The Solar System  Nebular Theory A nebula is a cloud of gas and/or dust in space. A nebula often consists of 92% H, 7% He, and <1% heavier elements.

26 According to the nebular theory, the sun and planets formed from a rotating disk of dust and gases. As the speed of rotation increased, the center of the disk began to flatten out and become more concentrated. This eventually became our sun!!

27 Nebula

28 The Hubble Telescope captured this picture of a nebula near a dying star (450 light years away in the constellation Aquarius) (these are two gases colliding)

29 Formation! The Solar System was formed from the contraction of a pre-solar nebula, a vast cloud of gas and dust. The center of the nebula became the Sun and the outer parts accreted to form the planetesimals.

30 Formation of the Solar System The Solar System Planetesimals are small, irregularly shaped bodies formed by colliding matter. Over time, these planetisimals will collect enough material/mass to have their own gravitational pull. The inner planets (close to the sun) were too hot for ice to form and only rocky material accreted. The outer planets (far from the sun) had both solid matter and ice to accrete.

31 Formation of the Universe

32 Planetary Composition, Distance from the Sun, and Melting Point


34 Mercury: The Innermost Planet The Terrestrial Planets

35 Mercury is the innermost and second smallest planet; it is hardly larger than Earth’s moon.


37 Because Mercury is so small, the gravity on Mercury is 38% of the gravity on Earth. A 100 pound person would weigh only 38 pounds on Mercury. To calculate your weight on Mercury, just multiply your weight by 0.38

38 Orbit: very elliptical with no seasons (because no tilt) Mercury orbits the sun every 88 days and has a rotation of 59 days.

39 Surface Features Mercury has cratered highlands, much like the moon, and vast smooth terrains that resemble maria.


41 Surface Temperatures Mercury has a very, very thin atmosphere. This means that it has no shielding from the sun’s energy (on the light side) and no way to hold this energy (on the dark side). Mercury has the greatest temperature extremes of any planet.

42 Since the atmosphere is so thin, the sky would appear pitch black (except for the sun, stars, and other planets, when visible), even during the day.

43 Mercury has a daytime temperature of about 400 ⁰ C and a nighttime temperature of about ⁰ C, a mere 73 degrees above absolute zero.

44 Mercury’s Surface

45 If you were on the surface of Mercury, the Sun would look almost three times as big as it does from Earth!


47 Mercury was visited by NASA's Mariner 10 in 1973 and 1974 (robotic space probe that visited both Venus and Mercury). Mariner is STILL orbiting the Sun, but is no longer transmitting (and is probably horribly damaged by the Sun’s energy.)NASA's Mariner 10 Venus


49 Currently, the MESSENGER space probe is orbiting Mercury and sending messages back to Earth. Probe launch in 2004 First image of Mercury sent back to Earth (2008)


51 Venus: The Veiled Planet The Terrestrial Planets

52 Venus  Venus is similar to Earth in size, density, mass, and location in the solar system. Thus, it has been referred to as “Earth’s twin.”

53 Venus

54 Surface Features Venus is covered in thick clouds that visible light cannot penetrate. About 80 percent of Venus’s surface consists of plains covered by volcanic flow.

55 Venus’ Surface


57 Venus’ Atmosphere Venus has the densest atmosphere (93 times denser than Earth’s) of all the terrestrial planets, consisting mostly of carbon dioxide (97%).atmosphere carbon dioxide Venus is covered with an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing its surface from being seen from space in visible light.cloudssulfuric acidvisible light

58 Revolution and Rotation Venus’ orbital length is Earth days. Venus’ rotational period is 243 Earth days (slowest of any major planet). Also, Venus is the only planet to rotate clockwise!!!

59 Surface Temperatures The average surface temperature of Venus reaches 475 o C. There is little variation between night and day because of the thick atmosphere and slow rotation. There is minimal tilt so essentially no seasons.

60 Mariner 10 Images


62 Mars (taken by the Hubble)

63 Mars is the Red Planet because of the iron oxide in the crust. Iron oxide is reddish in color.

64 Mars: The Red Planet!  The Martian Atmosphere The Martian atmosphere has only 1 percent of the density of Earth’s. Although the atmosphere of Mars is very thin, extensive dust storms occur and may cause the color changes observed from Earth.

65 Surface Features Most Martian surface features are old by Earth standards. The highly cratered southern hemisphere is probably 3.5 billion to 4.5 billion years old.

66 Mars’ Moons Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped.moonsPhobos Deimos

67 Orbiting spacecraft Mars is currently host to three functional orbiting spacecraft: Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This is the most of any planet (other than Earth).spacecraftMars OdysseyMars Express Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

68 Surface Landers The surface is also home to the two Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) and several inert landers and rovers, both successful and unsuccessful. The Phoenix lander recently completed its mission on the surface.Mars Exploration RoversSpirit OpportunityPhoenixlander


70 Mars

71 The Polar Landers have determine water on Mars!!!

72 Water on Mars

73 Jupiter: Giant Among Planets 23.3 The Outer Planets  Jupiter has a mass that is 2 1/2 times greater than the mass of all the other planets and moons combined. Jupiter’s hydrogen-helium atmosphere also contains small amounts of methane, ammonia, water, and sulfur compounds.  Structure of Jupiter

74 Jupiter and the Great Red Spot

75 Jupiter: Giant Among Planets 23.3 The Outer Planets Jupiter’s satellite system, including the 28 moons discovered so far, resembles a miniature solar system.  Jupiter’s Moons  Jupiter’s Rings Jupiter’s ring system was one of the most unexpected discoveries made by Voyager 1.

76 Jupiter’s Largest Moons

77 Saturn: The Elegant Planet 23.3 The Outer Planets  The most prominent feature of Saturn is its system of rings.  Features of Saturn Saturn’s atmosphere is very active, with winds roaring at up to 1500 kilometers per hour. Large cyclonic “storms” similar to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, although smaller, occur in Saturn’s atmosphere.

78 Cassini Approaching Saturn

79 Saturn: The Elegant Planet 23.3 The Outer Planets  Saturn’s Rings Until the discovery that Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune have ring systems, this phenomenon was thought to be unique to Saturn. Most rings fall into one of two categories based on particle density.  Saturn’s Moons Saturn’s satellite system consists of 31 moons. Titan is the largest moon, and it is bigger than Mercury.

80 Saturn’s Rings

81 Uranus: The Sideways Planet 23.3 The Outer Planets  Instead of being generally perpendicular to the plane of its orbit like the other planets, Uranus’s axis of rotation lies nearly parallel with the plane of its orbit.

82 Uranus

83 Neptune: The Windy Planet 23.3 The Outer Planets  Winds exceeding 1000 kilometers per hour encircle Neptune, making it one of the windiest places in the solar system.

84 Neptune

85 Pluto: Planet X 23.3 The Outer Planets  Pluto’s orbit is highly eccentric, causing it to occasionally travel inside the orbit of Neptune, where it resided from 1979 through February 1999.

86 Asteroids: Microplanets 23.4 Minor Members of the Solar System  An asteroid is a small, rocky body whose diameter can range from a few hundred kilometers to less than a kilometer.  Most asteroids lie between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. They have orbital periods of three to six years.

87 Irregular Orbits of Asteroids

88 Comets 23.4 Minor Members of the Solar System  Comets are small bodies made of rocky and metallic pieces held together by frozen gases. Comets generally revolve about the sun in elongated orbits.

89 Comets 23.4 Minor Members of the Solar System  Coma A coma is the fuzzy, gaseous component of a comet’s head. A small glowing nucleus with a diameter of only a few kilometers can sometimes be detected within a coma. As comets approach the sun, some, but not all, develop a tail that extends for millions of kilometers.

90 Comet’s Tail Points Away from the Sun

91 Comets 23.4 Minor Members of the Solar System  Kuiper Belt Like the asteroids in the inner solar system, most Kuiper belt comets move in nearly circular orbits that lie roughly in the same plane as the planets.  Oort Cloud Comets with long orbital periods appear to be distributed in all directions from the sun, forming a spherical shell around the solar system called the Oort cloud.

92 Comets 23.4 Minor Members of the Solar System  Halley’s Comet The most famous short-period comet is Halley’s comet. Its orbital period is 76 years.

93 Meteoroids 23.4 Minor Members of the Solar System  A meteor is the luminous phenomenon observed when a meteoroid enters Earth’s atmosphere and burns up, popularly called a shooting star.  A meteoroid is a small, solid particle that travels through space.  A meteorite is any portion of a meteoroid that reaches Earth’s surface.

94 Meteoroids 23.4 Minor Members of the Solar System  Most meteoroids originate from any one of the following three sources: (1) interplanetary debris that was not gravitationally swept up by the planets during the formation of the solar system, (2) material from the asteroid belt, or (3) the solid remains of comets that once traveled near Earth’s orbit.

95 Major Meteor Showers

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