Archive for March, 2011

Jupiter – The Big Gas Giant.

March 28, 2011


Jupiter is next in line, being the 5th planet from the Sun. But before we arrive at Jupiter we have to travel through a big asteroid belt. Sigh.
Only one of these asteroids, Vesta, is ever visible to the naked eye, and it’s not got the largest diameter! That would belong to Ceres, which is as much as 900 kilometers (560 miles) wide.

You’re VERY unlikely to get hit by an asteroid if you were to travel through an asteroid belt though…

Well that’ll do, they can get pretty boring when all the excitement of Jupiter awaits.

JUPITER!

What a beast. He/She/It ‘s (Jupiter is named after the King of the Gods from Greek Mythology) 142 984 kilometers in diameter across the equator and 43128×1015 km3 in volume. (That’s 1321.3 Earths!) And if that’s not enough, he’s
2.5 times the mass of all the other planets in our solar system!

He’s got 63 moons! But only 4 of these are large enough to be commonly sighted.

Jupiter is primarily composed of hydrogen with a quarter of its mass being helium; it may also have a rocky core of heavier elements.

NASA are planning on sending out a spacecraft to orbit Jupiter in August 2011.
For more information:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/main/index.html

Oo ‘ello, what have we here then?

Jupiter has a giant red spot, if you haven’t noticed already…

It’s basically a high pressure equivalent of a hurricane on Earth, it’s said to have been going for at least 300 years.

Jupiter orbits the sun at 13km per second.
It’s mean surface temperature is -150 degrees Celsius.

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And the next planet is… Uuuummmm… MARS

March 26, 2011
I totally didn’t have to look that one up.

Yes, the red planet. So here are some facts, boys and girls:

Named after the roman war god, Mars is smaller than earth, with the surface area of 28% of that of the earth’s.

Mars also holds several records; it’s volcano Olympous Mons is 27km tall, (roughly three times the size of mount Everest,) and takes up an area similar to the American state of Arizona. This is the highest peak in the solar system.

It has the longest trench in the solar system too; stretching 4000km, and 7km deep, which makes it longer than the European continent and ten times longer than the grand canyon.

As Mars is smaller than Earth, gravity is a lot less; about 37% of what we experience on earth. If we are to ever land on Mars, we’d feel very light. (Though it would take us six months to travel by spaceship from Earth.)

It is the most likely of all the other planets in the solar system to have ever housed life; it is believed that water, the vital source of life, used to run on the red planet. It is now frozen, mainly in the polar ice caps.

Oh, and you wouldn’t find any socialists here! (I’ll just kill the joke.)

Everybody’s favourite planet (apart from probably Mercury) – Earth!

March 23, 2011

Earth… perhaps the most unknown planet in our solar system. So what is there to know about this obscure planet?

What makes Earth special is that it is in something called the ‘Goldilocks zone’. This means that it is just the right distance from the sun to be neither too hot nor too cold, allowing it to support liquid water. This is essential for life, and is partially why Earth is the only planet we know of to date to support life.

The element most present in the Earth’s composition, by mass is in fact Iron, making up 34.6% of Earth, followed by Oxygen and then Silicon.

Earth is the only planet in our solar system not named after Greek or Roman mythology- instead Earth’s name has its roots in Old English and Germanic dialects.

Most of the mass of the earth is in the viscous liquid mantle, followed by the semi-fluid outer core and solid iron inner core. The crust only makes up a very small portion of the Earth as a whole.

Earth differs from other terrestrial planets in the solar system in the way its crust floats as plates on top of the mantle.

The Earth’s crust is mainly made up of quartz.

The Earth’s core can reach temperatures of 7500K in the centre, exceeding those on the surface of the sun.

The Earth is denser than any other major body in the solar system.

In fairly short periods of time (only about 500000000 years or so) the Earth’s surface will actually be completely destroyed and recreated, so no traces of the early earth are left on the surface today. 

Without life on Earth Oxygen probably wouldn’t exist, due to its reactivity. As it is it makes up about 21% of the Earth’s atmosphere, Nitrogen being the most abundant gas at 77%

And, just for you Ieuan-

            Socialists live on Earth.

Feeling Hot?

March 21, 2011

I like Venus, But I feel it gets a bad rep, it’s always left out in exploration voyages and in sci-fi it’s never populated by people, even when Mars and Mercury are.

There is a reason for this; Venus is the hottest planet in the whole solar system (around 460 degrees Celsius), despite being further away from the Sun and having a remarkably similar composition to Earth.

This is because it has a load of super reflective gas clouds on its surface made form none other than our good friend H2SO4 (sulphuric acid).

You can see the cloud formations on Venus' surface.

 

Fun facts:
It has the densest atmosphere of any planet in the solar system, composed mainly of Carbon Dioxide.

It’s also roughly the same size as Earth.

It’s named after the Roman Goddess of love and beauty.

Scientists think it used to have Earth-like seas before it got too hot.


Everybody’s favourite planet (apart from probably Earth) – Mercury!

March 19, 2011

Today I’m talking about Mercury. (Can you see a running theme? – crazy!)
The closest planet to the sun, Mercury basically resembles our own moon in that it is mainly cratered with regions of smooth plains has no natural satellites and no atmosphere. Being so close to The Sun Mercury only takes 87.969 earth days to orbit it fully unlike Earths 365.3, it is also the smallest planet in the solar system and has the smallest axial tilt.

We don’t really know that much about Mercury as you can only see an illuminated crescent when looking through a telescope, however we do know that it has a core of iron which generates a magnetic field about 1% as strong as the earths. This large iron core makes the planet incredibly dense. The surface temperature of Mercury varies from -183 °C, at the bottom of its deepest craters near the poles and 427°C at its subsolar point, its mean temperature being 169.35 °C. So all in all a pretty inhospitable planet! Still at least its named after the roman god of trade… And he had wings on his hat!

The Sun.

March 16, 2011
So, we’re all living on one of many planets, in one of many solar systems, in one of many galaxies, in the one universe that we’re aware of.
So we’re pretty insignificant. But hey, luckily we, as a species, have the ability to discover and learn about the great world around us.
Let’s start with something familiar…
‘The Sun’ is the name we have given to the only star in our solar system. It’s a big ball of really hot gas. We can feel its heat from Earth and we’re between 91 and 94.5 million miles away depending on our position of orbit.
The sun, like all other stars gets its energy from burning its gases by nuclear fusion. It’s around 14 000 000°C at the center (where the fusion of atoms happens), but only 6000°at the surface. Most stars are made up almost entirely of two main gases: hydrogen and helium.
Our Sun was born from a cloud of gas around 5 000 million years ago. It is made up of different layers of gas; the surface is called the photosphere. Huge flames of hot gas occasionally explode from here. They’re called Solar Flares and Prominences.
I’ll just throw this out there:
Our Sun has a 1 393 000 kilometer diameter. It rotates once every 27 Earth days.
It has 8 planets orbiting it (Poor Pluto :/)
earth sun comparison
As with all stars our Sun will eventually die, but luckily for us, we’ve got about another 5 000 million years until this occurs. When it does, it will have used all its hydrogen and helium will become its main fuel. It’ll expand to around 100 times larger and 1000 times brighter. It will then be a Red Giant. It will then shrink to a white dwarf star, only the size of the Earth.