From Telescopes To Spacecraft

From Telescopes To Spacecraft - From Telescopes To...

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From Telescopes To Spacecraft Introduction: This week, the course will cover: 1. The surface and structure of planet earth. 2. Unique aspects of each planet of the solar system. 3. Why there are similarities and differences between the planets. 4. The nature of planetary debris. This week's readings in the textbook provide an excellent introduction to the comparative planetology of the Solar System planets. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the textbook gives you very little insight into how this information was obtained and, more importantly, why our knowledge has improved so much in the last fifty years. In this lecture, I will describe what technological advances made this vast increase in knowledge of other planets possible. Lecture: In 1900, astronomers studying the planets were largely limited to observing the planets through telescopes using their eyes. They were able to measure the angular positions and sizes of the planets and the angular positions of the moons. With this information, they determined the masses and densities of the planets. Jupiter and Saturn were found to be flattened or oblate, and Saturn is less dense than water. They also studied the surfaces features of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, but these observations were severely limited by the blurring caused by turbulent motions of the air in our atmosphere, known as “seeing”. With this information the rotation periods (day length) were determined. Mars has a rotation period quite close to that of earth. Under the best “seeing” conditions, Mars was found to have light and dark areas and white polar caps whose size varied over the Martian “year”. Some astronomers claims to see linear features on Mars, which they labeled 'channels' or 'canali', but were mistranslated as 'canals' in English. Mars had many properties which captured the popular imagination. The first use of photographic plates for astronomical observations was a photograph of
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2010 for the course SCI 151 taught by Professor Jackson during the Fall '09 term at University of Phoenix.

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From Telescopes To Spacecraft - From Telescopes To...

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