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Mercury (planet)

Mercury (planet)
Mercury is gravitationally locked and rotates in a way that is unique in the Solar System. As seen relative to the fixed stars, it rotates exactly three times for every two revolutions[b] it makes around its orbit.[13] As seen from the Sun, in a frame of reference that rotates with the orbital motion, it appears to rotate only once every two Mercurian years. An observer on Mercury would therefore see only one day every two years. Because Mercury's orbit lies within Earth's orbit (as does Venus's), it can appear in Earth's sky in the morning or the evening, but not in the middle of the night. Internal structure Internal structure of Mercury: 1. Mercury's density can be used to infer details of its inner structure. Mercury's core has a higher iron content than that of any other major planet in the Solar System, and several theories have been proposed to explain this. Alternatively, Mercury may have formed from the solar nebula before the Sun's energy output had stabilized. Surface geology

Venus Venus is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" because of their similar size, gravity, and bulk composition (Venus is both the closest planet to Earth and the planet closest in size to Earth). However, it has also been shown to be very different from Earth in other respects. It has the densest atmosphere of the four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% carbon dioxide. The atmospheric pressure at the planet's surface is 92 times that of Earth's. With a mean surface temperature of 735 K (462 °C; 863 °F), Venus is by far the hottest planet in the Solar System. Physical characteristics Venus is one of the four terrestrial planets in the Solar System, meaning that, like Earth, it is a rocky body. Geography The Venusian surface was a subject of speculation until some of its secrets were revealed by planetary science in the 20th century. The longitudes of physical features on Venus are expressed relative to its prime meridian. Surface geology

Mercury as Never Seen Before Mercury as Never Seen Before Date: 6 Oct 2008 The spectacular image shown here is one of the first to be returned from MESSENGER's second flyby of Mercury. The image shows the departing planet taken about 90 minutes after the spacecraft's closest approach. The bright crater just south of the center of the image is Kuiper, identified on images from the Mariner 10 mission in the 1970s. For most of the terrain east of Kuiper, toward the limb (edge) of the planet, the departing images are the first spacecraft views of that portion of Mercury's surface. A striking characteristic of this newly imaged area is the large pattern of rays that extend from the northern region of Mercury to regions south of Kuiper.

Saturn Saturn's interior is probably composed of a core of iron, nickel and rock (silicon and oxygen compounds), surrounded by a deep layer of metallic hydrogen, an intermediate layer of liquid hydrogen and liquid helium and an outer gaseous layer.[15] The planet exhibits a pale yellow hue due to ammonia crystals in its upper atmosphere. Electrical current within the metallic hydrogen layer is thought to give rise to Saturn's planetary magnetic field, which is weaker than Earth's magnetic field but has a magnetic moment 580 times that of the Earth due to Saturn's larger body radius. Saturn's magnetic field strength is around one-twentieth the strength of Jupiter's.[16] The outer atmosphere is generally bland and lacking in contrast, although long-lived features can appear. Wind speeds on Saturn can reach 1,800 km/h (1,100 mph), faster than on Jupiter, but not as fast as those on Neptune.[17] Physical characteristics Composite image roughly comparing the sizes of Saturn and Earth Atmosphere

Mercury's magnetic field Strength[edit] Whether the magnetic field changed to any significant degree between the Mariner 10 mission and the MESSENGER mission remains an open question. A 1988 J.E.P. Connerney and N.F. Origins[edit] The origins of the magnetic field can be explained by dynamo theory;[11] i.e., by the convection of electrically conductive molten iron in the planet's outer core.[17] A dynamo is generated by a large iron core that has sunk to a planet's center of mass, has not cooled over the years, an outer core that has not been completely solidified, and circulates around the interior. This dynamo is probably weaker than Earth's because it is driven by thermo-compositional convection associated with inner core solidification. Magnetic poles and magnetic measurement[edit] Mercury's magnetic field tends to be stronger at the equator than at other areas of Mercury. There have been various ways that Mercury's magnetic field has been measured. Discovery[edit] Field characteristics[edit] References[edit]

Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun. It is the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets. It is sometimes referred to as the world or the Blue Planet.[23] Earth formed approximately 4.54 billion years ago, and life appeared on its surface within its first billion years.[24] Earth's biosphere then significantly altered the atmospheric and other basic physical conditions, which enabled the proliferation of organisms as well as the formation of the ozone layer, which together with Earth's magnetic field blocked harmful solar radiation, and permitted formerly ocean-confined life to move safely to land.[25] The physical properties of the Earth, as well as its geological history and orbit, have allowed life to persist. Name and etymology In general English usage, the name earth can be capitalized or spelled in lowercase interchangeably, either when used absolutely or prefixed with "the" (i.e. Heat

Catalog of Transits of Mercury A transit is the passage of a planet across the Sun's bright disk. At this time, the planet can be seen as a small black disk slowly moving in front of the Sun. The orbits of Mercury and Venus lie inside Earth's orbit, so they are the only planets which can pass between Earth and Sun to produce a transit. Transits are very rare astronomical events. During the seven century period 1601 CE to 2300 CE1, Earth experiences 94 transits of Mercury across the Sun. All Transits = 94 = 100.0% May (Descending Node2) = 31 = 33.0 % November (Ascending Node3) = 63 = 67.0 % Mercury's orbit is highly eccentric (e = 0.2056). During May transits, the apparent diameters of the Sun and Mercury are 1902 and 12 arc-seconds, respectively. A cursory examination to the table below will reveal that consecutive transits of Mercury appear to be separated by either 3.5, 7, 9.5, 10 or 13 years. The individual columns in each table are described in greater detail in the Key to Transit Catalogs. Footnotes

Uranus Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. Uranus is similar in composition to Neptune, and both are of different chemical composition than the larger gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. For this reason, astronomers sometimes place them in a separate category called "ice giants". Uranus's atmosphere, although similar to Jupiter's and Saturn's in its primary composition of hydrogen and helium, contains more "ices" such as water, ammonia, and methane, along with traces of hydrocarbons.[12] It is the coldest planetary atmosphere in the Solar System, with a minimum temperature of 49 K (−224.2 °C), and has a complex, layered cloud structure, with water thought to make up the lowest clouds, and methane the uppermost layer of clouds.[12] In contrast, the interior of Uranus is mainly composed of ices and rock.[11] History Discovery The power I had on when I first saw the comet was 227. Naming Name Axial tilt

Mars Animation of Mars' rotation from the vantage of an observer who moves south, then north, to hover over both poles, showing the planet's major topographic features. Mars is currently host to five functioning spacecraft: three in orbit – the Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter – and two on the surface – Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity. Defunct spacecraft on the surface include MER-A Spirit and several other inert landers and rovers such as the Phoenix lander, which completed its mission in 2008. Observations by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars.[25] In 2013, NASA's Curiosity rover discovered that Mars' soil contains between 1.5% and 3% water by mass (about two pints of water per cubic foot or 33 liters per cubic meter, albeit attached to other compounds and thus not freely accessible).[26] Physical characteristics Size comparison of Earth and Mars. Soil

EO Newsroom: New Images - IMAGE Spacecraft Pictures Aurora From space, the aurora is a crown of light that circles each of Earth’s poles. The IMAGE satellite captured this view of the aurora australis (southern lights) on September 11, 2005, four days after a record-setting solar flare sent plasma—an ionized gas of protons and electrons—flying towards the Earth. The ring of light that the solar storm generated over Antarctica glows green in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, shown in this image. The IMAGE observations of the aurora are overlaid onto NASA’s satellite-based Blue Marble image. From the Earth’s surface, the ring would appear as a curtain of light shimmering across the night sky. Like all solar storms, the September storm distorted the shape of the magnetic field that surrounds the Earth. Since 2000, IMAGE has provided insight into how the Earth’s powerful magnetic field protects the planet from solar winds. Image courtesy NASA Instrument(s):

Jupiter Structure Jupiter is composed primarily of gaseous and liquid matter. It is the largest of four gas giants as well as the largest planet in the Solar System with a diameter of 142,984 km (88,846 mi) at its equator. Composition Jupiter's upper atmosphere is composed of about 88–92% hydrogen and 8–12% helium by percent volume or fraction of gas molecules. Based on spectroscopy, Saturn is thought to be similar in composition to Jupiter, but the other gas giants Uranus and Neptune have relatively much less hydrogen and helium.[21] Because of the lack of atmospheric entry probes, high-quality abundance numbers of the heavier elements are lacking for the outer planets beyond Jupiter. Mass Jupiter's diameter is one order of magnitude smaller (×0.10045) than the Sun, and one order of magnitude larger (×10.9733) than the Earth. Internal structure Above the layer of metallic hydrogen lies a transparent interior atmosphere of hydrogen. Atmosphere Cloud layers Great Red Spot and other vortices

Neptune Neptune is similar in composition to Uranus, and both have compositions which differ from those of the larger gas giants, Jupiter, and Saturn. Neptune's atmosphere, while similar to Jupiter's and Saturn's in that it is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, along with traces of hydrocarbons and possibly nitrogen, contains a higher proportion of "ices" such as water, ammonia, and methane. Astronomers sometimes categorise Uranus and Neptune as "ice giants" in order to emphasise these distinctions.[10] The interior of Neptune, like that of Uranus, is primarily composed of ices and rock.[11] It is possible that the core has a solid surface, but the temperature would be thousands of degrees and the atmospheric pressure crushing.[12] Traces of methane in the outermost regions in part account for the planet's blue appearance.[13] In contrast to the hazy, relatively featureless atmosphere of Uranus, Neptune's atmosphere is notable for its active and visible weather patterns. History Naming

Cassini Images of Seas on Titan Cassini Spacecraft Images Seas on Saturn's Moon Titan Instruments on NASA's Cassini spacecraft have found evidence for seas, likely filled with liquid methane or ethane, in the high northern latitudes of Saturn's moon Titan. One such feature is larger than any of the Great Lakes of North America and is about the same size as several seas on Earth. Cassini's radar instrument imaged several very dark features near Titan's north pole. Image right: A comparison view of a lake on Titan and Lake Superior. "We've long hypothesized about oceans on Titan and now with multiple instruments we have a first indication of seas that dwarf the lakes seen previously," said Dr. While there is no definitive proof yet that these seas contain liquid, their shape, their dark appearance in radar that indicates smoothness, and their other properties point to the presence of liquids. The imaging cameras, which provide a global view of Titan, have imaged a much larger, irregular dark feature.

Venus Venus is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" because of their similar size, gravity, and bulk composition (Venus is both the closest planet to Earth and the planet closest in size to Earth). However, it has also been shown to be very different from Earth in other respects. It has the densest atmosphere of the four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% carbon dioxide. The atmospheric pressure at the planet's surface is 92 times that of Earth's. With a mean surface temperature of 735 K (462 °C; 863 °F), Venus is by far the hottest planet in the Solar System. Physical characteristics Venus is one of the four terrestrial planets in the Solar System, meaning that, like Earth, it is a rocky body. Geography The Venusian surface was a subject of speculation until some of its secrets were revealed by planetary science in the 20th century. The longitudes of physical features on Venus are expressed relative to its prime meridian. Surface geology

Chinese moon rover slated for 2012

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