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Astronomy and Mystery Solar System Essay

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Updated: May 13th, 2021

What processes drive plate tectonics?

The process that drives plate tectonics is believed to be thermal related. Basically, this thermal heat originates from the hot mantle embedded within a shell of plates. The hot mantle causes the motion of plates via a thermal convection mechanism. Ideally, whatever happens, is that the hot mantle rises in a fashion similar to conventional current. As it rises, it cools and then sinks. The process recurs once more.

This motion causes plates to move towards each other, move away, or slide past one another. When the plates move away from each other, they form divergent boundaries. Consequently, a rift in the crust forms. This would later be filled with the surrounding water. On the other hand, when plates move against each other, they form convergent boundaries that form mountains and volcanoes. Finally, when plates slide against each other, they form the transform-fault boundary. On many occasions, shallow earthquakes are experienced when these types of boundaries form.

The layers that make up the temperature structure of a planet’s atmosphere and the energy sources that heat them

A planetary atmosphere is made up of four main temperature layers. These layers include the thermosphere, mesosphere, stratosphere, and troposphere. The thermosphere encompasses two layers; the exosphere and some parts of the ionosphere (>80Km). Across this layer, the temperature increases with altitude. The mesosphere layer (17 Km

The greenhouse effect is a warming effect due to the presence of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere that includes carbon dioxide (the most dominant gas). The greenhouse effect is not bad; however, recently, increased human activities have led to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide that has resulted in global warming. Basically, whatever happens, is that the heat emitted from the Earth’s crust (long wavelength) cannot penetrate through the ozone layer. This heat is, instead, irradiated back to the Earth, increasing its temperatures.

The four processes that can add gas to a planetary atmosphere and the five processes by which a planetary atmosphere can lose gas

The planetary atmosphere can be gained courtesy of gravitational field strength, which is basically strong in giant planets but less in smaller ones. This force attracts gasses to encapsulate a planet. Moreover, atmospheric gasses can be gained through volcanic outgassing due to volcanic activities. Also, the planetary atmosphere can be gained due to surface impacts, for instance, when a comet hits the surface of a planet to release gases. Finally, planetary gases can be gained through the processes of evaporation and sublimation that occur on open water sources.

The planetary atmosphere can be lost via chemical reactions. For instance, the planet Mars lost its oxygen due to an oxidation reaction with iron. Also, the planetary atmosphere can be lost thanks to solar winds that wipe away gases from planets with no magnetic fields. Moreover, the planetary atmosphere can be lost through thermal escape because of higher planetary temperatures. Finally, a planet’s atmosphere can be lost because of processes such as freezing and condensation, which emplace gases on the surfaces.

The water and carbon cycles in the Earth’s atmosphere and how feedback works within them

The water cycle is a series of processes that replenish the water that is utilized on the planet earth. This process is also called the hydrological cycle, and it involves a number of processes. First, the water from the surface of the Earth evaporates while the plants evapotranspire. The water droplets rise, cool, and then condense to form clouds. This will fall as precipitation on the surface of the Earth, flowing like rivers into oceans. This will evaporate, and as such, the process recurs.

Akin to the aforementioned cycle, the carbon cycle is another process vital in checking the atmospheric carbon in the atmosphere lest we suffer from carbon extremities. The carbon is made available to the atmosphere as CO2 gas by both plants and animals when they respire or when man burn fossil fuel. This is, in turn, eliminated from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis, where plants manufacture food. Secondary consumers (animals) feed on these foods, respire to provide energy to the body, and later die to form fossil fuel. This replenishes the lost carbon in the atmosphere. The process recurs to form a carbon cycle.

Calculation/Critical Thinking Problems

Going by the information provided about the inner solar systems, I believe planet five will have a strong greenhouse effect. This is because the planet is the most massive (1.013 earth masses), and as such, it has a strong gravitational pull than other planets. This will function to attract more gases than the other planets. Also, because it is far away from the sun (1.24 AU), it is unlikely that the atmosphere will be lost via thermal escape. The no-greenhouse temperatures attest that the planet is far much cooler than the others thus can retain the atmosphere. This is further emphasized by the wavelength of the light emitted (12293 nm); it is more than the others. This shows that it is relatively cooler than the others.

The surface temperature (T) of a planet is given by the equation below

T= b/Ξ». But b = 2.9E-3 m.K and Ξ» is the wavelength of a plant’s irradiation.

Therefore, for planet 2, T = 2.9*10-3/ (6902*10-9) = 420 K.

Planet 3, T = 2.9*10-3/ (8956*10-9) = 324 K.

Planet 5, T = 2.9*10-3/ (12293*10-9) = 236 K.

Going by my expectations, planet five, which is further away from the sun, is the coolest. However, with an expected dense atmosphere, one would expect it to be the hottest. Nonetheless, a planet with a dense atmosphere is not necessarily the hottest. There are some other factors like the distance from the sun that determine the average planetary temperature.

My planet of choice for classification is planet 5 for the one that is less than ten earth masses and planet 3 for the one that is greater than ten earth masses. First, planet 5 is a terrestrial planet. This one has a relatively high density compared to the exoplanets. This high density is due to the fact that its core is mainly composed of heavy metals. Also, these types are typified by few moons or none. Its atmosphere is less dense and thus suffers from extreme diurnal temperatures. My planet 5, on the other hand, is classified as a gas giant (Jovian planet). This is typified by numerous moons, gaseous atmosphere, and liquid surfaces. Comparatively, it has a low density due to its composition.

Scientists believe that Europa has a subsurface ocean due to a number of pieces of evidence presented on the realm. First, Galileo spacecraft brought this to light when it sensed a rather induced magnetic field on this realm. Conductive substances were also detected within a depth of 30Kms. Also, the geographical makeup of the realm (fractured) strongly suggests that the plate is highly mobile.

Going by the evidence gathered, I believe that this information is scientific. In fact, the geographical evidence of the numerous fractures of the realm plus the chaotic terrain tells it all.

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