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					The Outer Planets
     The Inner Planets to Scale




3,031 mi    7,521 mi     7,926 mi    4,222 mi
5.4 g/cm3   5.2 g/cm3   5.5 g/cm3   3.9 g/cm^3
The Outer Planets to Scale




88,700 mi   75,000 mi 31,700 mi 30,200 mi
1.3 g/cm3   0.7 g/cm3   1.3 g/cm3 1.6 g/cm3
     Outer Planet Similarities
• All are tens of thousands of miles across
  – Much larger than the inner planets
• All are made of gas - hydrogen and helium
  – No rocky surface like the inner planets
• All are not very dense (b/c made of gas)
• Why do the outer planets share these
  similarities?
• Why don’t the outer planets have more in
  common with the inner planets?
Jupiter
    • Largest planet
    • Colorful cloud bands
    • Rapid rotation
      (9h50m)
    • -250°F at cloud tops
    • Great Red Spot
Great Red Spot
       • Hurricane-like storm,
         fueled by heat inside
         of Jupiter
       • Large enough to
         cover 3 Earths
       • Discovered by Galileo
         nearly 400 years ago
         – Why can it last so long
           compared with
           hurricanes on the
           Earth?
Saturn
   • Least dense planet -
     Would float on water!
   • Bulges because of
     rapid rotation
     (10h30m)
   • Large, broad rings
Saturn’s Rings
       • Made of countless
         small chunks of ice
         and rock
         – Why don’t the chunks
           combine to form a
           moon?
         – Why doesn’t Earth
           have rings?
       • 170,000 miles wide,
         <1 mile thick
Uranus
   • Discovered by
     accident (1781)
   • Blue-green color from
     methane in its
     atmosphere
   • -350°F at cloud tops
   • Almost featureless;
     little weather
     – Why might Uranus
       lack distinctive
       weather patterns?
             Uranus’ Axis
• Axis tilted 98° from its orbit
• Orbits Sun every 84y
• How would these factors affect its seasons?
What’s Wrong with Uranus?
             • Following its
               discovery,
               astronomers
               calculated its orbit
             • Uranus mysteriously
               speeded up, then
               slowed down
               – Why might Uranus
                 have deviated from its
                 calculated orbit?
Neptune
   • Discovered at its
     predicted position
     (1846)
   • Blue color from methane
   • -370°F at cloud tops
   • Great Dark Spot in
     1989, but not 1994
     – How is this different from
       the Great Red Spot?
     – Why is its weather
       different from Uranus?
       Jupiter?
The S.S. Family Portait

				
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posted:12/1/2011
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