A Tale of Three Planets Facilitation

Introduction

Training
A Tale of Three Planets-script.doc

Earth - Mars - Venus (wedges)

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bluemarble_nightlights.jpg Blue Marble

This dataset shows the Earth with daytime and nighttime views of the Earth, to demonstrate how only half of the Earth is illuminated at one time.
(SOS85)

Venus-clouds.jpg Venus

The atmosphere that surrounds Venus, is mainly composed of carbon dioxide and some sulfuric acid. This composition allows for the greenhouse effect to be astronomical causing the planet to have a constant temperature of 864°F. The planet is the brightest because the clouds, composed of sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid, are highly reflective. The pressure of the atmosphere that surrounds Venus is 90 times that of the atmosphere around Earth.
(SOS216)

mars.jpg Mars

This Mars surface dataset shows the  best known geographical features of Mars. Olympus Mons is the highest point in the solar system at 88,500 ft., Valles Marineris canyon which is 2500 miles long and 4 miles deep, and Hellas Planitia, an impact crater in the Southern Hemisphere that is 4.3 miles deep and 1400 miles in diameter.Mars
(SOS224)

venus.jpgVenus (Albedo)

Visible light image of Venus. Albedo is a measurement of the reflectivity of an object. A theoretically perfect reflecting object would reflect 100% of the electromagnetic radiation that falls upon it, while an object that was perfectly black would reflect 0%.  Venus reflects 67% of the light that hits it.
The reason Venus is so bright is because its thick cloud layer, composed of sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid, is highly reflective.
(SOS215)

Extra:Albedo of Venus

mars.jpg Mars (Albedo)

This map was created by the USGS. It is based on thousands of images from the Viking Orbiter spacecraft obtained in the mid 1970's.
Things to note are the polar ice caps on the north and south, the bright and dark albedo features (due to varying amounts of surface dust cover) that were visible by ground based telescopes hundreds of years ago.

weekly_sea_ice.jpg Earth Sea Ice (Albedo)

Sea ice levels from 1987-2012. This map was derived from MODIS observations onboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. The albedo of the Earth is very important because it helps define the temperature of the planet. Fresh snow has an albedo of 90%, while the ocean has a very low albedo; land areas range from 10% to 40%.
(SOS188)

Sea Ice Levels from 1979-2004
(SOS190)

Extra: Albedo of the Earth

Mars Diurnal Temperature
(Layered set with day and night temps.)

These maps were derived from THEMIS infrared observations of Mars. They were obtained by the Mars Odyssey mission starting in 2002. The observations determined the temperature change from day to night (e.g., observations of the surface made at 2 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time). Things to note are during the daytime map the dark albedo features tend to be warmer and at night the entire planet cools by nearly 200° F.

Venus-clouds.jpg Venus Diurnal Temperature
(Layered set with day and night temps.)

The atmosphere on Venus is mainly composed of carbon dioxide and some sulfuric acid. This composition allows for the greenhouse effect to be very pronounced, causing the planet to have a constant temperature of 864°F. 
(SOS216)

Earth Diurnal Temperatures
(Layered set with day and night temps.)

This dataset was developed by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. The observations determined the temperature change from day to night (e.g., observations of the surface made at 2 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time).  Thermal Inertia is much higher in water than in land. At night the ground cools and radiates energy back into space.  Water has a high thermal inertia so it doesn't cool off as much. The day/night temperature change in the oceans is minimal.

Venus-clouds.jpg Venus with/without Clouds
(Layered Venus with clouds and Venus radar map)

Base layer is derived from radar images taken by the Magellan spacecraft starting in 1994. Clouds are essentially proxies for how much atmosphere a planet has. Venus' thick layer of clouds is the reason it's the hottest planet in the solar system as well as the brightest. The pressure of the atmosphere that surrounds Venus is 90 times that of the atmosphere around Earth, crushing any probes that land on Venus in a matter of hours.

Mars with/without Clouds
(Layered Mars with clouds and Mars base map)

The base albedo map used in this dataset is the same as the one used in the Mars Albedo dataset earlier in this playlist. Cloud layer was derived by HST observations made in 1995. Things to note are the relative rarity of clouds and the relationship of elevated topography with the occurrence of clouds (as we see on earth).

Earth with/without Clouds
(Layered Earth with/without clouds)

Both the cloud and the non-cloud map information came from NASA's MODIS  (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer). Cloud maps are a visual way of showing the density of a planet's atmosphere. Trapped gas in the atmosphere directly relates to how warm a planet gets.

Venus Volcanoes
(White sphere with volcano layers)

Volcanoes on Venus are poorly understood. Radar maps were used to determine what morphologically look like volcanoes. Scientists are uncertain if Venus' volcanoes are active but there is circumstantial evidence they may be erupting. Over billions of years volcanoes contribute to the atmosphere of a planet.

Mars Volcanoes
(White sphere with volcano layers)

The location of volcanoes are derived from observations made from a variety of orbiting spacecraft (Viking, MGS, Mars Odyssey, MRO). Mars was obviously once very geologically active but there's no evidence for active volcanism occurring over the last several hundred million years. Compare to the Earth map and note that there is no evidence for plate tectonics.

volcano_eruption.jpg Earth Volcanoes
(White sphere with volcano layers)

The red dots on the Earth Volcanoes dataset are on land and are the result of direct measurement. The orange dots represent underwater volcanoes. Volcanoes on Earth are the result of plate tectonics.
(SOS121)

Earth - Mars - Venus (wedges)

JupiterRedSpot-tn.jpg Jupiter

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. The "Great Red Spot" is a storm that has been raging for more than 300 years.
(SOS238)

SunXRay-tn.jpg X-Ray Sun

Seen in x-ray wavelengths, the brightest areas you see here are solar flares. Since the Sun is not solid, the equator rotates faster than the poles.
(SOS265)

mola-thumbnail.jpg Mars MOLA

A topographic view of Mars can be telling of the many distinguishing characteristics that it possesses.
The Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter, MOLA, an instrument used to determine the altitude, was in orbit, attached to the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft.
The altitude is determined by MOLA by transmitting a laser pulse toward the surface of Mars. By recording the flight time of the pulse, the distance between the spacecraft and the surface of Mars can be calculated. These range measurements are then used to create the topographic maps. Areas that are red and brown have higher altitudes while areas that are blue and green have lower altitudes.

MoonPhases.jpg Moon Phases

The Moon's phases are caused by its orbit around the Earth. As the Moon circles us, different parts of it face the sun. When the side of the Moon facing the Earth is sunlit, we see a full Moon. When the sun is up on the far side of the Moon, we see a thin crescent, or nothing at all. (SOS349)

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