Midterm Study Notes

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18 Mar 2012
School
Department
Course
Professor
Geology of the Solar System
The Sun
109 times the diameter of the Earth!
333,000 times the mass of the Earth!
Burns hydrogen to helium
E=mc2 means small amount of mass converts into a lot of energy
Temperature at surface is 5,800 K
At the center, the temperature is 15 million K
Convection causes surface granulation (cells)
Sunspots
~10,000 km across
Red center with an orange ring
Linked to intense magnetic fields
On an 11-year cycle
Solar wind
Fast moving (1 million km/hr) gas in corona is continually escaping
During sunspot maximum: coronal mass ejections
“space weather”
Keplers 3 Laws
Orbit of planet is an ellipse with Sun at one focus
Line joining planet and Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal increments of time
Planets sidereal period increases with semimajor axis
I.e velocity of a body in orbit is determined by its distance
Space station (37 tons, 390 km above ea. Level, 91 min
Geostationary satellite (35, 786 km altitude, 1 day)
Moon (385 000 km, 27.3 days)
Newton’s Laws
1. Inertia
2. F=ma
3. Action = reaction
Law of gravitation
2 masses attract one another
Force = G m M/r^2
Tides
Wy do we experience 2 tides per day?
Exploration of Solar System
Earth-based telescope vs Hubble (Space telescope)
Images with false colours
Satellite remote sensing using radar waves
Rough terrain reflects more energy, creates bright halos
Monday March 12/12
Introductory Geology
C. Banks
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Landers and rovers
Humans
The Inner (‘Terrestrial’) Planets and Their Moons
Mercury
Small (.4 RE) and heavily cratered, similar to our moon
Almost no atmosphere
80C at night, 460C during day
Venus
Similar to Earth in size
Thick dense CO2 Atmosphere, immense greenhouse effect causing high surface
temperatures (450C)
Varied terrain (high and low areas)
Evidence for past volcanic activity (lava flows)
Mars
Half the size of earth
Red colour due to windblown dust
Olympus Mons, a basaltic shield volcano, is largest in solar system
Valles Marineris, a 400 km long canyon
Weathering (channels) and depositional (point bar) structures indicate that water once
flowed there
Ice caps at poles grow during winter
Earth and its Moon
Fall into Sun’s ‘habitable zone’ (i.e., liquid water on planet possible)
Parameters of Earth’s orbit
Perihelion and aphelion
Precession
Nutation
Structure of Moon
Light colored, cratered highlands
>4 Gyr anorthosite (feldspar rich)
Low-lying, dark colored ‘maria’
3.8-2.5 Gyr basalt (filled craters)
Moon is spiraling away from Earth at 3.8 cm/yr.
Earth day is getting longer by result
Energy loss due to tidal friction
Formation of moon likely by a huge asteroid impact on Earth
Gas Giants
Large size, gas rich, all with rings
Jupiter
Largest planet (11 Re, 318 Me, >2.5 mass of other planets
Monday March 12/12
Introductory Geology
C. Banks
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‘small’ rocky core
Only .04 Mj, but 20,000 km diameter, or 13 Me
Surrounded by liquid metallic hydrogen, normal molecular hydrogen
Swirling atmosphere
With narrow bands of rising and sinking clouds and great red spot (25,000 x 12,000
KM > 300 yr. old hurricane
Rotates once every 10 hours
5 min slower at poles - banded atmosphere
Several moons
Io is so close to Jupiter and its surface experiences 10m high tides and
volcanism
Ganymede largest moon in the solar system
Bigger than Mercury
Europa has icy crust with fissures
Saturn
Similar to Jupiter, slightly smaller (9Re)
Prominent icy rings
Mimas, one of its moons nearly got blasted apart by an impact of a crater 130 km wide
and 10 km deep
Uranus
Terrestrial core, plus layers of liquid water, liquid H+He
Blue colour (from methane atmosphere)
Axis of rotation, rings, movement of moon are ecliptic
Moon Miranda
236km diameter
Icy surface with craters and ‘chevrons’ of unknown origin
Neptune
Very similar to Uranus
Moon Triton has two distinct halves
Asteroids
Most in belt between Mars and Jupiter
Most <1km diameter, and odd-shaped
Several large ones
Ceres (940 km)
Pallas (600 km)
Probably leftover planetsimals
Small debris scattered throughout solar system may hit earth as meteorites
Kruiper belt objects
Beyond orbit of Neptune
Pluto and Charon (companions) no longer considered a planet and its moon
Monday March 12/12
Introductory Geology
C. Banks
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