<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Burns, J., et al. “Bejeweled Worlds.” Scientific American (February 2002): 64. On rings throughout the solar system.

Elliot, J., et al. “Discovering the Rings of Uranus.” Sky&Telescope (June 1977): 412.

Esposito, L. “The Changing Shape of Planetary Rings.” Astronomy (September 1987): 6.

Sobel, D. “Secrets of the Rings.” Discover (April 1994): 86. Discusses the outer planet ring systems.

Tiscareno, M. “Ringworld Revelations.” Sky&Telescope (February 2007): 32. Cassini results about the rings of Saturn.

Websites

Note: Many of the sites about planets and planetary missions listed for Other Worlds: An Introduction to the Solar System and The Giant Planets also include good information about the moons of the planets.

Cassini Mission to Saturn: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/ and http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Cassini-Huygens/index.html and http://ciclops.org

Jupiter’s Moons, at JPL: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/jupiter/moons

Neptune’s Moons, at JPL: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/neptune/moons

New Horizons Mission: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu. Gives the latest news bulletins and images from the Pluto encounter, plus lots of background information.

Pluto, at JPL: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/pluto

Saturn’s Moons, at JPL: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/saturn/moons

Uranus’ Moons, at JPL: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/uranus/moons

Apps

Two apps you can buy for iPhones or iPads can show you the positions and features of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn for any selected date:

  • Jupiter Atlas: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ju[iter-atlas/id352033947?mt=8
  • Saturn Atlas: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/saturn-atlas/id352038051?mt=8

Videos

Amazing Moons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQjZf2bW9XQ. 2016 NASA video on intriguing moons in our solar system (4:16).

Briny Breath of Enceladus: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/details.php?id=846. Brief 2009 JPL film on the geysers of Enceladus (2:36).

Dr. Carolyn Porco’s TED Talk on Enceladus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRQdHrGuVgI (3:26).

Titan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTrOFefYxFg. Video from Open University, with interviews, animations, and images (8:11).

Europa Mission: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/lectures_archive.php?year=2016&month=2. 2016 talk by two JPL scientists on NASA’s plans for a mission to Jupiter’s moon, which may have an underground liquid ocean (1:26:22).

Great Planet Debate: http://gpd.jhuapl.edu/debate/debateStream.php OR https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ8EErV6-6Q. Neil deGrasse Tyson debates Mark Sykes about how to characterize Pluto, in 2008 (1:14:11).

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pbj_llmiMg. 2011 Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture by Michael Brown on the “demotion” of Pluto to a dwarf planet (1:27:13).

Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIxQXGTl_mo. Dramatic 2016 New York Times production, narrated by Dennis Overbye (7:43).

Saturn’s Restless Rings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5zcrEze8L4. 2013 talk by Mark Showalter in the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series (1:30:59).

Collaborative group activities

  1. Imagine it’s the distant future and humans can now travel easily among the planets. Your group is a travel agency, with the task of designing a really challenging tour of the Galilean moons for a group of sports enthusiasts. What kinds of activities are possible on each world? How would rock climbing on Ganymede, for example, differ from rock climbing on Earth? (If you design an activity for Io, you had better bring along very strong radiation shielding. Why?)
  2. In the same spirit as Activity A , have your agency design a tour that includes the seven most spectacular sights of any kind on all the moons or rings covered in this chapter. What are the not-to-be-missed destinations that future tourists will want to visit and why? Which of the sights you pick are going to be spectacular if you are on the moon’s surface or inside the ring, and which would look interesting only from far away in space?
  3. In this chapter we could cover only a few of the dozens of moons in the outer solar system. Using the Internet or your college library, organize your group into a research team and find out more about one of the moons we did not cover in detail. Our favorites include Uranus’ Miranda, with its jigsaw puzzle surface; Saturn’s Mimas, with a “knockout” crater called Herschel; and Saturn’s Iapetus, whose two hemispheres differ significantly. Prepare a report to attract tourists to the world you selected.
  4. In a novel entitled 2010 , science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, inspired by the information coming back from the Voyager spacecraft, had fun proposing a life form under the ice of Europa that was evolving toward intelligence. Suppose future missions do indeed find some sort of life (not necessarily intelligent but definitely alive) under the ice of Europa—life that evolved completely independently from life on Earth. Have your group discuss what effect such a discovery would have on humanity’s view of itself. What should be our attitude toward such a life form? Do we have an obligation to guard it against contamination by our microbes and viruses? Or, to take an extreme position, should we wipe it out before it becomes competitive with Earth life or contaminates our explorers with microorganisms we are not prepared to deal with? Who should be in charge of making such decisions?
  5. In the same spirit as Activity D , your group may want to watch the 2013 science fiction film Europa Report. The producers tried to include good science in depicting what it would be like for astronauts to visit that jovian moon. How well does your group think they did?
  6. A number of modern science fiction writers (especially those with training in science) have written short stories that take place on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. There is a topical listing of science fiction stories with good astronomy at http://www.astrosociety.org/scifi. Members of your group can look under “Jupiter” or “Saturn” and find a story that interests you and then report on it to the whole class.
  7. Work together to make a list of all the reasons it is hard to send a mission to Pluto. What compromises had to be made so that the New Horizons mission was affordable? How would you design a second mission to learn more about the Pluto system?
  8. Your group has been asked by NASA to come up with one or more missions to learn about Europa. Review what we know about this moon so far and then design a robotic mission that would answer some of the questions we have. You can assume that budget is not a factor, but your instruments have to be realistic. (Bear in mind that Europa is cold and far from the Sun.)
  9. Imagine your group is the first landing party on Pluto (let’s hope you remembered to bring long underwear!). You land in a place where Charon is visible in the sky and you observe Charon for one Earth week. Describe what Charon will look like during that week. Now you move your camp to the opposite hemisphere of Pluto. What will Charon look like there during the course of a week?
  10. When, in 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decided that Pluto should be called a dwarf planet and not a planet, they set up three criteria that a world must meet to be called a planet. Your group should use the Internet to find these criteria. Which of them did Pluto not meet? Read a little bit about the reaction to the IAU’s decision among astronomers and the public. How do members of your group feel about Pluto’s new classification? (After you have discussed it within the group, you may want to watch The Great Planet Debate video recommended in “For Further Exploration.”)

Thought questions

Why do you think the outer planets have such extensive systems of rings and moons, while the inner planets do not?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Ganymede and Callisto were the first icy objects to be studied from a geological point of view. Summarize the main differences between their geology and that of the rocky terrestrial planets.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Compare the properties of the volcanoes on Io with those of terrestrial volcanoes. Give at least two similarities and two differences.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Would you expect to find more impact craters on Io or Callisto? Why?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Why is it unlikely that humans will be traveling to Io? (Hint: Review the information about Jupiter’s magnetosphere in The Giant Planets .)

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Why do you suppose the rings of Saturn are made of bright particles, whereas the particles in the rings of Uranus and Neptune are black?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Suppose you miraculously removed all of Saturn’s moons. What would happen to its rings?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

We have a lot of good images of the large moons of Jupiter and Saturn from the Galileo and Cassini spacecraft missions (check out NASA’s Planetary Photojournal site, at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov, to see the variety). Now that the New Horizons mission has gone to Pluto, why don’t we have as many good images of all sides of Pluto and Charon?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

In the Star Wars movie Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi , a key battle takes place on the inhabited “forest moon” Endor, which supposedly orbits around a gas giant planet. From what you have learned about planets and moons of the solar system, why would this be an unusual situation?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Figuring for yourself

Which would have the longer orbital period: a moon 1 million km from the center of Jupiter, or a moon 1 million km from the center of Earth? Why?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

How close to Uranus would a spacecraft have to get to obtain the same resolution as in [link] with a camera that has an angular resolution of 2 arcsec?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Saturn’s A, B, and C Rings extend 75,000 to 137,000 km from the center of the planet. Use Kepler’s third law to calculate the difference between how long a particle at the inner edge and a particle at the outer edge of the three-ring system would take to revolve about the planet.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Use the information in Appendix G to calculate what you would weigh on Titan, Io, and Uranus’ moon Miranda.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

The average distance of Enceladus from Saturn is 238,000 km; the average distance of Titan from Saturn is 1,222,000 km. How much longer does it take Titan to orbit Saturn compared to Enceladus?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

hi, I am yamini, I am in class 8 but very much interested in astronomy and go to NASA, what are the subjects in which I can master and lead to NASA.
yamini Reply
Hello Yamini, Im Ken and I'm avery intrested in joining the NASA too. Is nice to meet you.
Ken
very*
Ken
nice to meet u ken
yamini
What I know about the subjects is that you have to be a master on science and math, also if you know about aviation is better too
Ken
I read that the Russian language is very important, is not a requirement but it's like an extra point!
Ken
yeah like physics, chemistry and maths, they are my most favorite.
yamini
than you can go free of cost
Arush
Yes, That's right!
Ken
how
yamini
Oh! Free of cost?
Ken
hello yamini nice to meet you
Burak
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
It has been proven that there are water molecules on Mars but not enough that most lifeforms could thrive upon.
Ariana
There are huge amounts of water in the ice caps and under the surface. The surface and chemistry indicate that Mars had cosiderable amounts of water on its surface in the past.
Julius
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

Get the best Astronomy course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Astronomy. OpenStax CNX. Apr 12, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11992/1.13
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Astronomy' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask