Which Planet?

Amanda Chaiet
Flashcards by Amanda Chaiet, updated more than 1 year ago
Amanda Chaiet
Created by Amanda Chaiet almost 4 years ago



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Mercury Planetologists believe this planet has a large iron core which shrank when the planet cooled, leaving behind long, steep cliff faces called scarps.
Mercury The Caloris Basin is a large crater about ½ the radius of the planet. Planetologists found jumbled crust on the opposite side of the planet which they believe was caused by the object that created this basin.
Mercury Dominated by impact craters, smooth volcanic plains, possible ice in deep craters
Mercury 2 NASA Missions
Mariner 10- flyby (1970s) MESSENGER- orbiter (complete 2011) Now more than 99% mapped surface
Venus 3 large elevated “terra” or continents are on the surface of, which shows relatively few even-spaced crater impacts suggesting a recent planet-wide repavement in the last 750 million years.
Venus This planet boasts the hottest surface temperature of all planets in our solar system.
Venus It takes 243 Earth days for this planet to rotate once. This slow rotation is a primary reason why this planet does not have a global magnetic field.
Venus Clouds are sulfur dioxide and droplets of sulfric acid. Rains acid, but it evaporates before hitting ground (called virga)
Venus Many types of volcanoes: plains, cones, shield volcanoes, pancake domes, caldera, tick volcano
Venus Major Missions: Soviet Venera program: first lander was Venera 7; NASA Mariner program flyby; Magellan: NASA mission that used radar to map up to 300 m resolution.
Venus Just a little smaller and less massive than Earth; NO magnetic field, rotates backwards (retrograde), Sun rises west and sets east. Transits the Sun as viewed from Earth.
Venus Atmosphere: mostly carbon dioxide and some nitrogen; runaway greenhouse effect causes temperature of 872 F, hottest surface temperature of all planets, super-rotation of atmosphere
Earth Most refrigerator magnets have a magnetic field stronger than the this planets magnetic field which shields the planet from charged particles from the solar wind.
Earth has Plate Tectonics
Earth Mild greenhouse effect. Atmosphere is mostly Nitrogen, then Oxygen, Argon, Carbon Dioxide…
Earth large stable bodies of liquid water; 7 continents, active geology
Earth Solid inner iron core surrounded by liquid out core of iron, then mantle, thin crust.
Earth aurora at poles caused by charged particles from the Sun getting caught in planets magnetic field and exciting the gasses in the atmosphere.
Mars Shield volcano Olympus Mons is the tallest mountain in the solar system rising over 85,000 ft.
Mars NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers found solid evidence that liquid water once was abundant here.

Mars Has been known to have dust storms so large the entire planet is engulfed.
Mars Valles Marineris, Hellas Basin, and Frozen dry ice caps that migrate Subsurface water or permafrost in soil
Mars Discovery: has been known since ancient times. Tuesday named after it.
Mars Major Missions: most visited / studied planet other than Earth; Current NASA mission is Curiosity Rover
Mars No global magnetic field, only a magnetism still “baked into” the rocks left; red surface is due to rust or iron oxidizing.
Mars Moons: captured asteroids Phobos and Diemos
Jupiter Has the largest and strongest magnetosphere of the planets, and aurora have been documented at the poles of the planet.
Jupiter Has three cloud top layers: water, ammonium hydrosulfide and ammonia.
Jupiter Major Surface Features: gas giant, no solid surface Belts and zones (banding) of cloud top layers Giant long term circular storms (Giant Red Spot- size of Earth!))

Jupiter Dark carbon rings that “forward scatter” light.
Jupiter Moons: 67 confirmed moons. 4 Galilean moons discovered by Galileo in 1610: Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto
Jupiter Discovery: has been known since ancient times. Thursday named after it.
Jupiter More than 2x’s the mass of all other planets combined.
Jupiter Humans witnessed Comet Shoemaker Levy 9 impact this planet in July 1994 which was the first ever direct observation of a collision between Solar System objects.
Saturn This planet is the most oblate planet, meaning that the equatorial region bulges outward—looking like it is squashed at the poles.
Saturn Its rings were first seen by Galileo who described them as “ears” or possibly moons on either side of the planet.
Saturn The ring system is comprised of bits of highly reflective ice/rock chunks which have been broken up by this planets gravitational field.
Rings have gaps due to resonance with this planet and its many moons.
Saturn Hexagonal storm system at pole.
Saturn Major Surface Features: 
gas giant, no solid surface Generally bland atmosphere, banding is deeper in than Jupiter Polar aurorae do exist due to magnetic field Lightning on planet 1,000 x’s stronger than on Earth
Saturn Moons: 62 moons, 53 are named; hundreds of moonlets in the rings.
Saturn Discovery: has been known since ancient times. Saturday named after it.
Saturn Missions: Pioneer flyby 1979 Voyager 1 in 1980 Voyager 2 in 1981 Cassini-Huygens in 2004
Sarturn Other Interesting Facts: Density less than water! Easily visible to naked eye. Tilt of rings changes to Earth observers
Uranus First planet discovered by humans with the aid of a telescope – Sir William Herschel in Bath, England in his garden on March 13, 1781
Uranus This planet has extreme 20 year long seasons due to the fact that its axis of rotation is tipped roughly 97° , parallel to the ecliptic (plane of solar system).
Uranus Methane in the atmosphere of this planet absorbs red light from the Sun and reflects blue light. Additional smog-like scatter makes it appear greener than Neptune.
Uranus Major Surface Features: Ice giant (failed gas giant?) No solid surface No storms visible Very bland surface layer Contains much more ices than Jupiter/Saturn Ices are water, ammonia, methane, ethane (not
Uranus Moons: 27 known moons Named for charcters in Shakespeare and Alexander Pope
Uranus Missions: Voyager 2 in 1986 flyby
Uranus Known as planet “George” or “George’s Star”
Uranus 84 year orbital period
Uranus Planet was knocked over on its side
Uranus Rings discovered during an occultation of a star Aurorae seen at poles
Neptune First planet to be “found” mathematically first, then found observationally with a telescope by Johann Gottfried Galle in 1846.
Neptune Known for the fastest winds in the solar system, wind speeds can reach up to 700 miles/hour.
Neptune Planets arc ring system was discovered by Voyager spacecraft in 1989.
Neptune Major Surface Features: Ice giant (failed gas giant?) Bluer in appearance than Uranus Dark and white storms visible on top layer of atmosphere
Neptune Missions: Voyager 2 flyby
Neptune Moons: 13 known moons (1 more awaiting official confirmation) Top 3 largest: Triton, Proteus, Nereid
Neptune Cannot be seen with the unaided eye. (must use telescope)
Neptune 6 rings
Neptune 165 years to orbit the Sun
Pluto Major Surface Features: Remarkably varied surface, changes in brightness Surface seems to be mostly nitrogen ice with traces Made of rock and ice
Pluto Moons: 5 known moons Charon is largest, and is so large it is often called a double-object with this planet
Pluto Discovery: discovered by Kansas farm boy Clyde Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in 1930
Pluto Missions: New Horizons mission will flyby in 2015!
Pluto In 2006, deemed a dwarf planet because it has not cleared its orbit of debris
Pluto 2nd most massive dwarf planet
Pluto Orbit is highly inclined off the ecliptic=17 degrees! 247 years to go around Sun once!
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