Published on January 24, 2008
Terrestrial Planetsin our Solar System: Terrestrial Planets in our Solar System Christopher Jett TSU/NASA/NSF Conference Tennessee State University Advisor: Dr. Geoff Burks Terrestrial Planets: Terrestrial Planets A terrestrial planet is described as having a compact, rocky surface like the Earth’s. Terrestrial planets are composed primarily of rock and metal and have relatively high densities, slow rotation, solid surfaces, no rings, and few satellites. Solar System: Solar System Kepler’s laws of planetary motion - Planets move in elliptical orbits. - A line drawn from the planet to the sun will always sweep out the same area over a given time interval. - The square of a planet’s period of revolution around the sun is proportional to the cube of its average distance from the sun. Research Questions: Research Questions How common are terrestrial planets in our solar system? Which of these planets is suitable for life? Which of these planets was once suitable for life? How common are terrestrial planets in our solar system?: How common are terrestrial planets in our solar system? Include Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars Are the innermost planets Are relatively small planets with diameters less than 13,000 km Make up 44% of the planetary system Mercury: Mercury “Messenger of the gods” Innermost plant & second smallest Surface temparture subject to great extremes No moon and no atmosphere Sun rises twice in one day Caloris Basin- a crater larger than the British Isles Venus: Venus Named after Roman goddess of beauty Closest to Earth Targeted by space probes Brightest natural object in the sky Longest day of any planet Sun rises in the west and sets in the east No magnetic field Mead Crater- 280km best preserved large crater Earth: Earth Derived from Old English 365.24 days to orbit the sun 23º axial inclination responsible for our seasons Two-thirds is covered by oceans Arid desserts near the equator Great Wall of China Mars: Mars Named after the Roman god of war “Red Planet” Asteroid belt Close to Earth’s temperature Mariner 4 Mariner 9 Olympus Mons- largest volcano in the solar system Two moons- Phobos and Deimos Let’s Compare: Let’s Compare Who’s Suitable for Life?: Who’s Suitable for Life? Basic requirements for life include: - occurrence of liquid water - access to the biogenic elements - source of energy able to drive chemical reactions resulting in the production of molecules Life on Earth: Life on Earth Began 4 billion years ago Dinosaurs and other species existed 65 million years ago Within the “green zone” Intelligent Life on Earth: Intelligent Life on Earth Intelligence- a high degree of consciousness of its environment and a great deal of ability to make changes in that environment Intelligent Life or Not: Intelligent Life or Not Conquer disease Extend the human life span Use of technology Destroy the entire ecosystem Destroy other species Loss of species for human drugs Life on Mars: Life on Mars Mars seemed Earthlike with similar rotation period, axial inclination, orbit, and temperature Rocks from Mars EETA79001 ALH84001 EETA79001: EETA79001 ALH84001: ALH84001 Igneous rock weighing 4.2 pounds Found in Allan Hills in 1984 by the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Meterorite Program One of twelve Martian meterorites found on Earth Life in ALH84001: Life in ALH84001 Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Mineral phases Tiny carbonate globules Concentrations of iron, water, and other volatiles Meterorite ALH84001 : Meterorite ALH84001 Spirit & Opportunity: Spirit & Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover Jet Propulsion Laboratory Gusev Crater & Meridiani Planum Mass of 180 kg Set of 5 geology instruments and a rock abrasion tool “RAT” Or No Life: Or No Life Search has been unsuccessful Visit Mars yourself Conclusions: Conclusions Terrestrial planets are common in our solar system, making up 44% of our planetary system. Earth is the only planet suitable for life. It’s still a complicated issue whether or not life existed on Mars. Future Research: Future Research How common are terrestrial planets beyond our solar system? What is the definition of intelligent life? Is Earth life really intelligent? Could life have existed on Venus? Will scientists ever create a rover that will come back to Earth?