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Planets and Planetary Systems / Edition 1

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Planetary Science is an exciting, fast-moving, interdisciplinary field with courses taught in a wide range of departments, including astronomy, physics, chemistry, earth sciences and biology. Planets and Planetary Systems is a well-written, concise introductory textbook on the science of planets within our own and other solar systems.

Keeping mathematics to a minimum, assuming only a rudimentary knowledge of calculus, the book begins with a description of the basic properties of the planets in our solar systems, and then moves on to compare them with what is known about planets in other solar systems. It continues by looking at the surfaces, interiors and atmospheres of the planets and then covers the dynamics and origin of planetary systems. The book closes with a look at the role of life in planetary systems.

An accessible, concise introduction to planets and planetary systems

Uses insights from all the disciplines underlying planetary science

Incorporates results from recent planetary space missions, such as Cassini to Saturn and a number of missions to Mars

Well illustrated throughout, including a colour plate section

Planets and Planetary Systems will prove invaluable to students taking courses in planetary science across a wide range of disciplines and will be of interest to researchers and many keen amateur astronomers, needing an up-to-date introduction to this exciting subject.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Planets and Planetary Systems is invaluable to students taking courses in planetary science across a wide range of disciplines and of interest to researchers and many keen amateur astronomers, needing an up-to-date introduction to this exciting subject.” (Today Books, 20 September 2012)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470016923
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/26/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 196
  • Product dimensions: 6.95 (w) x 9.98 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Our planetary system 1

1.1 Diversity in the Solar System 1

1.2 General trends in the properties of the planets 9

1.3 Why are planets round? 12

1.4 When is a planet not a planet? 19

Exercises 21

2 Other planetary systems 23

2.1 The discovery of exoplanets 23

2.2 The implications of the existence of other planetary systems 29

2.3 The future for exoplanet research 32

Exercises 36

Further Reading and Web Sites 37

3 The surfaces of the planets 39

3.1 Rocks 39

3.2 Geological structures 43

3.3 Crater counting 50

3.4 Mercury and Venus 52

3.5 A tourist's guide to Mars 55

3.6 Recent research on Mars 58

Exercises 64

Further Reading and Web Sites 64

4 The interiors of the planets 65

4.1 What we do and don't know about planetary interiors 65

4.2 Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune 72

4.3 Why we know so much about the Earth 73

4.4 Why is the surface of the Earth such an interesting place? 78

Exercises 83

Further Reading 84

5 The atmospheres of the planets 85

5.1 The atmosphere of the Earth 85

5.2 The other planets 93

5.3 The weather on the Earth and elsewhere 96

5.4 The origin and evolution of planetary atmospheres 99

Exercises 102

Further Reading and Web Sites 103

6 The dynamics of planetary systems 105

6.1 Laws of planetary motion 105

6.2 Stable and unstable orbits 108

6.3 Tidal forces 111

Exercises 117

7 The small objects in planetary systems 119

7.1 The evidence of the meteorites 119

7.2 The asteroid belt 123

7.3 Comets 126

7.4 The Oort Cloud 132

7.5 The Edgeworth-Kuiper belt 135

Exercises 139

Further Reading and Web Sites 139

8 The origin of planetary systems 141

8.1Laplace's big idea 141

8.2 The protoplanetary disc 144

8.3 From dust to planetesimals 147

8.4 From planetesimals to planetary embryos 149

8.5 From planetary embryos to planets 150

8.6 Collisions, the Oort Cloud and planetary migration 152

Exercises 156

Further Reading 157

9 Life in planetary systems 159

9.1 A short history of life on Earth 159

9.2 The evolution of the Solar System as a habitat 164

9.3 The possibility of life elsewhere 167

Exercises 171

Further Reading and Web Sites 171

Answers 173

Appendix A 175

A.1 The epoch of planetary exploration 175

Appendix B 179

B.1 Derivation of Kepler's first and second laws 179

Index 183

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