Download Alien Skies: Planetary Atmospheres from Earth to Exoplanets by Frédéric J. Pont PDF

By Frédéric J. Pont

Planetary atmospheres are advanced and evolving entities, as mankind is quickly coming to grasp while trying to comprehend, forecast and mitigate human-induced weather swap. within the sunlight procedure, our neighbours Venus and Mars offer extraordinary examples of 2 endpoints of planetary evolution, runaway greenhouse and lack of surroundings to space.

The number of extra-solar planets brings a much broader perspective to the problem: from hot "hot jupiters'' to ocean worlds, exo-atmospheres discover many configurations unknown within the sun approach, akin to iron clouds, silicate rains, severe plate tectonics, and steam volcanoes. Exoplanetary atmospheres have lately turn into available to observations.

This e-book places our personal weather within the wider context of the pains and tribulations of planetary atmospheres. in response to state of the art study, it makes use of a grand travel of the atmospheres of different planets to polish a brand new mild on our personal surroundings, and its relation with life.

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Fig. 13 The sulphur cycle(s) on Venus. Image credit: Joanna Barstow Chapter 2 – Venus 37 Super-rotation The clouds of Venus spin around the whole planet every few days. Before they were able to observe the surface, astronomers assumed that this was the speed at which the planet turned on itself. This did not seem unreasonable compared to the 24-hour rotation period of Earth or the 25 hours on Mars. But in fact, the planet Venus takes 243 days to spin on itself, or eight Earth months! Thus the surface hardly moves at all below the furiously blowing winds that carry the clouds around.

Water is one of the most abundant substances on the surface of planets, and Earth, Venus and Mars probably all possessed generous amounts of surface water in the early days of the Solar System. However, water has a fundamental weakness – as H2O, it contains two atoms of hydrogen, the lightest element in the Universe. The gravity of Earth is not strong enough to keep hold of free hydrogen. As long as the hydrogen atoms are tied up in a water molecule, they are fine, but if they ever become separated, they drift off into space.

Because of the higher surface temperature and absence of water, Venusian eruptions rarely exhibit the cone shape common on Earth, they form mushrooming blobs or meandering lava flows. The clouds of Venus Comparing conditions at the surface of two planets can be misleading. When describing a position within an atmosphere, a more natural coordinate than altitude is pressure, which really tells what the place feels like. The drawing overleaf shows the atmospheres of Earth and Venus compared on the same pressure scale.

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