Astro 10/harpell

Quiz 5 review (fall 06)



The Earth and Terrestrial Planets—general concepts and questions.

1.                             How does the Surface to Volume Ratio explain why larger planets retain their heat longer than smaller planets?


2.                             What is the Albedo of a planet?  All things being equal, why would a planet with higher albedo be cooler than a planet with lower albedo?

3.                             Why do gigantic volcanoes exist on mars and Venus?  How are they formed?  How do Island chains, such as Hawaii demonstrate why such large volcanoes do not form on Earth?

4.                           What is the relationship between Volcanism and atmospheres?

5..                          What is the atmospheric pressure on Venus, and Mars relative to the Earth’s atmospheric pressure?  What is the Earth’s atmospheric pressure in lbs/sq inch?




  1. How were the surface (topographic) maps of Venus created?
  2. What are the white, dense clouds on Venus made of?  What caused them to form? 
  1. What are the general surface features of Venus?  What are they called?
  2. What were the first spacecrafts to land on Venus called?  Were they immediately successful at landing and taking pictures? What did pictures from those spacecrafts reveal?



  • Evidence that water once flowed on Martian Surface?  What do the images show? 
  • It is assumed that river channels, coupled with mars low temperatures imply that a great deal of water is still on mars somewhere. Where are we likely to find most of this water?
  • Why did Lowell believe there were canals on mars?  Are they really there?
  • Why is the surface of Mars generally reddish?
  • What is the name of the gigantic “crack” on the Martian surface?  What caused it? 
  • In what way are the Tharsis Mons, Vallis Marinaris, and Tharsis Plateau related?
  • What spacescrafts have orbited Mars? In particular, what were (or are) Viking, Soujouner, Mars Global Surveyor, Spirt, Opporunity, and Mars Reconnsance Oribiter (MRO)?


Orbital and Rotational properties

  • Why does Mars have more extreme seasons than the Earth?  
  • Which hemisphere on Mars gets the hottest summer?  The coldest winter?
  • How does a Martin day or “sol” compare with an earth day?
  • Does Venus have Seasons?  How does a Venusian day compare with an Earth day?
  • How does the tilt of Venus and Mars compare with the tilt of the earths axis?


Atmosphere and Climate

  • What is the blackbody (no atmosphere) temperature of a planet?
  • Which planet has a blackbody temperature very close to the boiling point of water at one bar of pressure?
  • What are the atmospheric layers of the Earth, from the ground up? 
  • Why does the temperature in the stratosphere begin to rise as you get higher?
  • What causes the high temperatures in the thermosphere?
  • Why is the sky blue?  Why are sunsets reddish?
  • On Mars, the atmospheric pressure and change by as much as 25% over the course of a year..What causes this dramatic change?  Hint: what happens seasonally to the polar caps?


Climate, atmospheric evolution, Greenhouse effect and global warming

  • Although it’s not known how much water Venus originally had, it is well known that it has no water at present.  What happened to the water on Venus? 
  • It’s thought that the Earth and Venus had similar amounts of CO2 in their atmosphere early in their evolution.  What happened to the CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere (And didn’t happen on Venus)? Why could water exist as a liquid on Earth, but not on Venus?
  • Assuming the Earth’s primordial atmosphere was originally hydrogen and helium captured from the solar nebula, what happened to those gasses? Why did it happen?
  • In what ways do atmospheric gasses affect the temperature of a planet?  Would the earth be hotter or cooler without its atmosphere?  Explain.  In particular, consider the snowball Earth espisodes where the Earth swung from Ice ball to inferno and back again. What role to atmospheric gasses and rain (or lack of it) play in these cycles?
  • How does the Greenhouse effect work on Venus?  How is this different than what takes place in a real greenhouse? Would it be a reasonable statement to say that if the CO2 content of the EArth's atmosphere continues increasing at its present rate, our Atmosphere will soon resemble that of Venus? Explain.
  • Vocanism on Earth produces a tremendous amont of CO2-- more than all man made sources put together. Why then are volcanoes not linked to global warming at present?
  • How many Barrels of Oil do all the people of the world use each day?  What happens to this vast quantity of petroleum products?
  • Although few scientists debate global warming, the current government has blocked attempts to ratify the Kyoto treaty to regulate greenhouse gasses.  What are greenhouse gasses?  Are greenhouse gas emissions increasing?  At what rate?  Are we in danger of becoming like Venus, or are their fundamental differences between the two worlds, which will save us in spite of our bad habits? 



  • How big is Jupiter in comparison with the Earth?
  • How does Jupiter’s mass compare with the suns mass?
  • What is Jupiter’s internal structure?  Be able to draw a diagram showing the “layers” of Jupiter starting with the core and moving outward to space. 
  • What is the Great Red spot?  How long has it been there?
  • Why are storms able to persist for so long on Jovian planets?  Why do Hurricanes and Cyclones eventually die out on Earth?
  • What element is Jupiter primarily made out of? 
  • Does Jupiter have a core of Rocks and metals?  How big and massive is it?  How do we know? 
  • What is Jupiter’s atmosphere made out of? 



  • How big is Saturn in comparison with the Earth?  With Jupiter?  How does its density compare with Jupiter’s and the Earth’s?  Would Saturn float on water?  Why? 
  • How does Saturn’s composition compare with Jupiter’s?  Why is it different? 
  • How does Saturn’s atmosphere compare with Jupiter?  Why is it different (hint: Does the big difference in mass have anything to do with it? Why?)
  • Why does Saturn’s atmosphere show so much less detail than Jupiter’s atmosphere? What does gravity and temperature have to do with it?
  • What are Saturn’s rings made of? 
  • What might have caused the rings in the first place?
  • Which are the A, B, and C rings? 
  • What causes the Cassini division (hint: what does the moon Mimas have to do with it)?
  • What are Shepard moons?  How do they keep the rings in place? 
  • Why do we think that Saturn’s rings are relatively new?


The following topics are unlikely to be on quiz 5..however you will need to know much of this information for the final exam!

Uranus and Neptune

  • How do the sizes, masses, and structures of Uranus and Neptune compare with each other, the Earth, and Jupiter?
  • How was Uranus discovered? By whom and Approximately when?
  • How was Neptune discovered?  By whom Approximately when? Why did this discovery make Newton famous even though he was long dead? 
  • What is the atmosphere of Uranus and Neptune composed of? 
  • What causes the Blue color? 
  • Why does Neptune show more detail and have higher winds than Uranus?
  • What was the Great Dark spot?  Is it still there?
  • What is odd about Uranus’s rotation axis and system of moons? What would seasons be like on Uranus if it was closer to the sun? 


Jovian Moons

  • Be able to recognize photos of the four Galilean moons (why are they named that?).
  • Which moon is the largest moon in the solar system?  How big is it in comparison with our Moon, Mercury, and Mars?
  • Which moon is most likely to have a water ocean beneath its surface of ice?  What evidence do we have for this (There are three good reasons)?
  • Which moon is the most volcanically active world in the solar system? 
  • Why is this moon so active?
  • Be able to explain the orbital resonance between Io and Europa and why this causes the planets to be heated due to “tidal forces”
  • Which moon has the oldest surface? 
  • Why does the fact that three of the Galilean moons have magnetic fields that change as Jupiter’s magnetic field move by them provide evidence that there is water in liquid form beneath their ice surfaces? 
  • What cause the “plasma Torus” of charged particles around Jupiter in the same orbit as Io? 


Saturn, Uranus, Neptune ’s moons

  • Know the first and second largest moons of Saturn. How do they compare in size to the Jovian moons (Ganymede in particular)?
  • Which Moon of Saturn has the highest albedo?  Why is it so high?
  • What are the primary constituents of Titan’s atmosphere?  How does the atmospheric of Titan compare with the Earths in terms of composition and thickness?
  • What is the atmospheric pressure of Titan?
  • Which molecule plays roughly the same role on Titan as water does on Earth?  What is the “triple point” of a substance?
  • What are the moons of Uranus like in general?  Are there any moons comparable in size to the Galilean Moons?  Which Moon of Uranus has possible the most bizarre terrain in the solar system?  What might have caused this? 
  • What is Neptune ’s largest Moon called?  What types of ices are found on its surface?  Why are ices other than water ice possible there?  Does this moon show evidence of geologic/volcanic activity?  What type?
  • What will happen to Neptune ’s largest moon eventually?  Why?


Spacecraft missions

  • What did the Voyager, Galileo, and Cassini missions do (or are currently doing)?  Which was first?  Which is on going?
  • What did the Galileo lander do?  What unexpected data did it get? (hint: think water)
  • Has the Cassini Mission been able to reveal the surface of Titan?  If so, what did it show? 
  • Did the Huygens orbiter reveal Seas of Methane and Ethane? 
  • Why do we think the lander settled into an occasional “riverbed”
  • Why was it so difficult for Voyager’s cameras to get good photos of the Uranus system?