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Rotation of the planets

Astronomers have determined the rotation period of Mars with great accuracy by watching the motion of permanent surface markings; its sidereal day is 24 hours 37 minutes 23 seconds, just a little longer than the rotation period of Earth. This high precision is not obtained by watching Mars for a single rotation, but by noting how many turns it makes over a long period of time. Good observations of Mars date back more than 200 years, a period during which tens of thousands of martian days have passed. As a result, the rotation period can be calculated to within a few hundredths of a second.

The rotational axis of Mars has a tilt of about 25°, similar to the tilt of Earth’s axis. Thus, Mars experiences seasons very much like those on Earth. Because of the longer martian year (almost two Earth years), however, each season there lasts about six of our months.

The situation with Venus is different. Since no surface detail can be seen through Venus’ clouds, its rotation period can be found only by bouncing radar signals off the planet (as explained for Mercury in the Cratered Worlds chapter). The first radar observations of Venus’ rotation were made in the early 1960s. Later, topographical surface features were identified on the planet that showed up in the reflected radar signals. The rotation period of Venus, precisely determined from the motion of such “radar features” across its disk, is 243 days. Even more surprising than how long Venus takes to rotate is the fact that it spins in a backward or retrograde direction (east to west).

Stop for a moment and think about how odd this slow rotation makes the calendar on Venus. The planet takes 225 Earth days to orbit the Sun and 243 Earth days to spin on its axis. So the day on Venus (as defined by its spinning once) is longer than the year! As a result, the time the Sun takes to return to the same place in Venus’ sky—another way we might define the meaning of a day—turns out to be 117 Earth days. (If you say “See you tomorrow” on Venus, you’ll have a long time to wait.) Although we do not know the reason for Venus’ slow backward rotation, we can guess that it may have suffered one or more extremely powerful collisions during the formation process of the solar system.

Basic properties of venus and mars

Before discussing each planet individually, let us compare some of their basic properties with each other and with Earth ( [link] ). Venus is in many ways Earth’s twin, with a mass 0.82 times the mass of Earth and an almost identical density. The average amount of geological activity has been also relatively high, almost as high as on Earth. On the other hand, with a surface pressure nearly 100 times greater than ours, Venus’ atmosphere is not at all like that of Earth. The surface of Venus is also remarkably hot, with a temperature of 730 K (over 850 °F), hotter than the self-cleaning cycle of your oven. One of the major challenges presented by Venus is to understand why the atmosphere and surface environment of this twin have diverged so sharply from those of our own planet.

Properties of Earth, Venus, and Mars
Property Earth Venus Mars
Semimajor axis (AU) 1.00 0.72 1.52
Period (year) 1.00 0.61 1.88
Mass (Earth = 1) 1.00 0.82 0.11
Diameter (km) 12,756 12,102 6,790
Density (g/cm 3 ) 5.5 5.3 3.9
Surface gravity (Earth = 1) 1.00 0.91 0.38
Escape velocity (km/s) 11.2 10.4 5.0
Rotation period (hours or days) 23.9 h 243 d 24.6 h
Surface area (Earth = 1) 1.00 0.90 0.28
Atmospheric pressure (bar) 1.00 90 0.007

Mars , by contrast, is rather small, with a mass only 0.11 times the mass of Earth. It is larger than either the Moon or Mercury, however, and, unlike them, it retains a thin atmosphere. Mars is also large enough to have supported considerable geological activity in the distant past. But the most fascinating thing about Mars is that long ago it probably had a thick atmosphere and seas of liquid water—the conditions we associate with development of life. There is even a chance that some form of life persists today in protected environments below the martian surface.

Key concepts and summary

Venus, the nearest planet, is a great disappointment through the telescope because of its impenetrable cloud cover. Mars is more tantalizing, with dark markings and polar caps. Early in the twentieth century, it was widely believed that the “canals” of Mars indicated intelligent life there. Mars has only 11% the mass of Earth, but Venus is nearly our twin in size and mass. Mars rotates in 24 hours and has seasons like Earth; Venus has a retrograde rotation period of 243 days. Both planets have been extensively explored by spacecraft.

Questions & Answers

what is time
Abdul Reply
Time is relative
mrunal
pls elaborate
sakshi
the clear defination.I know that.
Abdul
In planet mars there the life exits or not and is there water there
Eshwarsa Reply
see till now nothing can be found as u know that the curiosity rover has struck in mars
Maya
what is your opinion about the theory of Vedas about modern physics..
Manish Reply
i think in some ways vedas are also correct but not everytime
Maya
I agree
sakshi
hmm even I agree
Samuel
Is there any patened theory about time relativitg in growth and development?
donot Reply
some astronomer's says that there is no alien exist but why search for extra terrestrial intelligence center is established
Eshwarsa Reply
No One Knows That For Absolute Fact, The Universe Is Too Huge To Have Any Type Of Idea About What Exist In The Far Reaches Of Our Universe.....
Adam
Check Out The Drake Equation.....
Adam
their should be aliens as like ours there would be another planet
Maya
which could have existed life on it
Maya
adam i want to ask a question
Maya
can kepler 1st law be applied on all the planets of the universe
Maya
hello, anyone home?
Denise
sjskskfhjkkktewqqw and try?
Lanika Reply
what is this ?
Samuel
hi I am Samuel from India mumbai
Samuel
nice to meet you
Samuel
thats my question, what is this?
penzias and wilson's a discovery of the cosmic microwave background is a nice example of scientific serendipity-something that is found by chance but turns out to have a positive outcome
Jacqueline Reply
how should I make my carrier in astronomy
Ayush Reply
I think that Newton's third law is not appropriate if any also thinks like this please reply me
Ayush
Can you explain your reasoning
Huh
why u think so
joseph
yes Ayush u are right
Yoganshu
I think when we apply force to a object it start moving but , a/c to Newton's third law every action has equal and opposite reaction,so object should also exert equal force on us and it should not move due to balanced force
Ayush
if I am not right then reply me
Ayush
no
Zack
because of friction that opposes that force and help us to move ahead
Manish
but this is not satisfied as third law say another thing
Ayush
you are telling why object moves
Ayush
you have to think a/c to third law
Ayush
its because of its mass
Maya
because it is applying equal and opposite force but also our mass is also less in comparison to the object
Maya
which is why we cant move the object but it can make move us
Maya
manish is too correct in his place because we need to apply force which would overcome the frictional force
Maya
My dear friends, can u plz tell me that among u guys who are in the field of cosmology
Madhav Reply
😢I am not there in cosmology
Samuel
Just A Science Fan.....
Adam
Adam even I am 😥😅😅😂😂
Samuel
I am also not in cosmology but I am just a fan or we can say science and part of NASA is my dream
Yoganshu
yoganshu Arya same here
Samuel
you are from which country
Yoganshu
hi yoganshu
Samuel
India
Samuel
which state
Samuel
I am also from India
Yoganshu
from delhi
Yoganshu
and u...?
Yoganshu
I am from Maharashtra
Samuel
from which state?
Yoganshu
You are a ASTRONOMER ...
Yoganshu
or a scientist..
Yoganshu
or just a member
Yoganshu
What is time...? not about Newton= time is constant..... that all scientists openions n point of view I m knowing. . what can be the Perfect Definition of Time
Madhav Reply
time is what clock reads
Ayush
Who is the best astronomer of India at present time
Gian Reply
Jayant Narlikar, Proponent Of Steady State Cosmology.....
Adam
What is the real colour of sun rays
Gian Reply
white.. so white it becomes violet.. so violet it become ultraviolet
Tom
white and red and yellow
Bianca
Vibgyor
Samuel
the real colour of sunlight is White
Madhav
the Sun's has a variety of waves all throughout the elextromagnetic spectrum.
Jacie
we only see it as a few bc of how some of them get redshifted (? can that term be applied for something so local?) by some particles in our upper atmosphere
Jacie
Vibgyor will be when, the white light will pass through the clouds ( prism ) then Refraction phenomenon leads us to 7 colours splitting from a single colour "White " light
Madhav
so the sun rays r of White colour
Madhav
Taurus in astronomy and horoscope?
Yasser Reply
how to put E=MC2
Gospel Reply
What Do You Mean By How To Put?
Adam
What Do You Mean By How To Put?
Adam
What Do You Mean By "How To Put E=MC2?
Adam
yep
Gospel
Hi guys
Samuel
i mean how NASA came to know the mass and diameters of Stars.how?
Gospel
how did they do using E=MC2
Gospel
thats my questioning
Gospel
that's easy formula's derivation
Madhav
why all planets revolving orbits are nearly in equal inclination?
Kartik Reply
***medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/ask-ethan-82-why-are-the-planets-all-in-the-same-plane-4470245c8743
rishabh
dependent on the mass
Madhav
no
Janak
I think because of the Suns gravity pull ,😕😕
Samuel
Samuel,. it's but obvious
Madhav

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Source:  OpenStax, Astronomy. OpenStax CNX. Apr 12, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11992/1.13
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