Solar System Essay

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The Solar System



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Introduction

As far as we know, there are nine planets locked in orbit around the Sun. Only one, our own Earth, supports life. But there are countless other suns throughout countless galaxies scattered across the expanse of the universe. We still don’t know if life exists on another planet in some other galaxy.




Mercury
Named for the wing-footed messenger of the Roman gods, Mercury races around its orbit at a dizzying speed of 30 miles (48 kilometers) per second, making the Mercurial year only 88 Earth days long. In contrast, one rotation around its axis—or a single day—takes almost 59 Earth days.



Geology
Mariner 10 gave us a wealth of
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Greenhouse effect
Sunlight entering Venus’s atmosphere is converted to heat radiation and is prevented from escaping by carbon dioxide—a phenomenon we call the “greenhouse effect.” Surface temperatures reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit (341.33 degrees Celsius), and the atmosphere appears to be constantly flashing with lightning.
Weight of atmosphere
For an idea of the weight of Venus’s atmosphere, consider that walking on the surface of Venus would be comparable to walking on the ocean floor at a depth of half a mile.


Earth
For about 500 million years after its initial formation, the Earth remained at a rather stable 2000 degrees Fahrenheit (874.68 degrees Celsius). Comprised predominantly of iron and silicates, the Earth also contained small amounts of radioactive elements, mostly uranium, thorium, and potassium. As these elements decayed, they produced radiation that gradually heated the Earth, melting the iron and silicates. The iron sank to the center, forcing the lighter silicates to the surface and causing the violent processes that formed the Earth’s surface as we know it and that continue to form it even today.



Geology
Between the iron core and the solid rock crust lies a mantle of heavy silicate rock that is 1800 miles thick (2880 kilometers). The mantle is neither solid nor liquid, but has a viscous, yielding consistency upon which the crust actually floats. The crust is not a…

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