The Planets: An OverviewThe Solar System Theterrestrial planetsare planets that are small and rocky—Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.TheJovian planetsare the huge gas giants—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.Pluto does not fit into either the Jovian or the terrestrial category.
Orbits of the Planets
The Planets: An OverviewThe Solar System Size is the most obvious difference between the terrestrial and Jovian planets.Density, chemical makeup, and rate of rotation are other ways in which the two groups of planets differ.
The Planets: An OverviewThe Solar System The Interiors of the Planets• The substances that make up the planets are divided into three groups: gases, rocks, and ices.The Atmosphere of the Planets• The Jovian planets have very thick atmospheres of hydrogen, helium, methane, and ammonia.• By contrast, the terrestrial planets, including Earth, have meager atmospheres at best.
Scale of the Planets
Formation of the Solar SystemThe Solar System Nebular Theory• A nebulais a cloud of gas and/or dust in space.• According to the nebular theory, the sun and planets formed from a rotating disk of dust and gases.
Formation of the Solar SystemThe Solar System Planetesimals• Planetesimalsare small, irregularly shaped bodies formed by colliding matter.
Formation of the Universe
Planetary Composition, Distance from the Sun, and Melting Point
Mercury: The Innermost PlanetThe Terrestrial Planets Mercury is the innermost and second smallest planet; it is hardly larger than Earth’s moon.88 Day Revolution• Mercury has cratered highlands, much like the moon, and vast smooth terrains that resemble maria.
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- Solar System, Planet, Pluto