Published on March 5, 2014
The Outer Planets Ch 11.2 (p390-396)
Vocabulary • Galilean moons (393) – The four largest moons of Jupiter – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto – which were first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610
The Gas Giants • The outer planets are called the gas giants because they are primarily made of hydrogen and helium. • They have strong gravitational forces due to their large masses. – The strong gravity creates tremendous atmospheric pressure that changes gases to liquids. – Most these planets have thick gas and liquid interiors covering a small, solid core
Jupiter • Largest planet – – – – 11 times the diameter of Earth Twice the mass of all the other planets combined Rotates faster than any other planet Like all outer planets, it has a ring system
Jupiter’s Atmosphere • • • • 90% hydrogen, 10% helium 1000km deep Dense, colorful clouds Because Jupiter rotates so quickly, the clouds stretch into bands • The Great Red Spot is a storm of swirling gases
Jupiter’s Structure • 80% hydrogen, 20% helium • Thick solid core • 1000km past the outer edge of the cloud layer, the pressure is so great hydrogen gas changes to liquid • Scientists do not know what the core is made of – They suspect it is rock and iron
The Moons of Jupiter • Jupiter has at least 63 moons • The 4 largest were discovered by Galileo in 1610 – We call these Galilean Moons • Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto • All made of rock and ice • Collisions between Jupiter’s moons and meteorites likely resulted in Jupiter’s rings
Saturn • 6th planet • Has horizontal bands of clouds • 90% hydrogen, 10% helium • Least dense planet – Its density is less than that of water
Saturn’s Structure • Similar to Jupiter – An outer gas layer, a thick layer of liquid hydrogen, and a solid core • Ring system is the largest and most complex – 7 bands of rings, each containing thousands of narrower ringlets – Main ring system is over 70,000km wide and less than 30m thick
Saturn’s Moons • At least 60 moons • 5 largest – Titan, Rhea, Bdione, Iapetus, and Tethys • Most of Saturn’s moons are chucks of ice less than 10km in diameter • Titan is larger than Mercury – It is the only moon in the solar system with a dense atmosphere – In 2005 the Huygen probe landed on Titan
Uranus • 7th planet • Narrow, dark rings • Deep atmosphere composed mostly of hydrogen and helium and some methane – The methane gas gives it a bluish color • Beneath the atmosphere is a thick, slushy layer of water ammonia, and other materials • Below that is a solid, rocky core
Uranus’s Axis and Moons • Uranus has a tilted axis of rotation – Maybe caused by a collision with an Earth-sized object • At least 27 moons – Largest are Titania and Oberon (smaller than our moon) • Titania has an icy cracked surface that might once have been covered by an ocean
Neptune • Discovered in 1846 • Atmosphere is like Uranus – Hydrogen, helium, and some methane • Interior is also like Uranus – Partially frozen water and ammonia with a rock and iron core • 13 moons and a faint ring system – Triton is the largest. It has a surface of frozen nitrogen and geysers that erupt nitrogen gas • Swirling storm s and high winds sometimes exceeding 1000km/h
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