Mars Curiosity Sunrise the surface of mars as seen by the curiosity rover Mars Sunrise Curiosity

Mars Curiosity Sunrise the surface of mars as seen by the curiosity rover Mars Sunrise Curiosity

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Curious facts about cosmic life and their inhabitants.

Of the four terrestrial, rocky planets of the inner Solar System (Mercury, Venus, our Earth, and Mars), both Mercury and Venus are moonless. Earth possesses one lone Moon, but it is a very large one--the fifth largest moon in our entire Solar System, in fact. Mars, on the other hand, has two tiny misshapen moons that resemble rocky potatoes, and are lumpy and dark, as they travel in their nearly circular orbits close to the plane of the Martian equator. The Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, are probably asteroids that were captured by Mars long ago.

and here is another

The team also considered whether it would be possible to determine, with an adequate degree of certainty, if a detected moon could bear life-loving liquid water. In their analysis, the "input" climate for the moon is habitable, which is identified with high probability. However, there still remains approximately a one in six failure rate.

and finally

Neptune, the eighth major planet from the Sun, and its neighboring sister-planet, Uranus--the seventh planet from the Sun--are both classified as ice-giants because their large cores are icy, and they never managed to acquire the immense gaseous envelopes of the two true gas-giants, Jupiter and Saturn. The gas giants are possibly composed entirely of gas and liquid, although they may have small solid cores. In contrast, the ice-giants have large solid cores and thinner atmospheres. The two gas-giants, being mostly atmosphere, are very lightweight for their size. Saturn is the lightest planet in our Solar System, despite its immense diameter. In fact, Saturn is light enough to float like a huge raft in water, provided there was an ocean big enough for it to bob around in.

Other facts:

Of the hundreds of bewitching moons in our Sun's family, Titan is remarkable for being the only one boasting a dense atmosphere and large liquid reservoirs on its surface, rendering it in many ways more like the four rocky, terrestrial planets of the warm and well-lit inner Solar System. Indeed, both Earth and Titan possess atmospheres dominated by nitrogen--more than 95 percent nitrogen in Titan's case. However, unlike our Earth, Titan's atmosphere has very little oxygen; the remainder of its atmosphere is primarily composed of methane and trace quantities of other gases--such as ethane. At the truly frigid temperatures found at the Saturn system's great distance from our Sun, Titan's methane and ethane can exist on the surface in their liquid form.

Methane and nitrogen present in Titan's atmosphere react together to create a variety of organic materials. Many planetary scientists think the heaviest materials somersault down to the surface of hydrocarbon-slashed Titan. Dr. Le Gall and her team propose that when those compounds splash into the sea, either by directly falling from the air as hydrocarbon rain, or through Titan's rivers, some are dissolved in the liquid methane. The compounds that do not dissolve, such as nitrites and benzene, sink down into the floor of this exotic sea.

Saturn is probably the most beautiful planet in our Sun's lovely family, with its magnificent system of enchanting rings, gleaming icy moons, and myriads of tumbling moonlets that dance and somersault both within and outside of the rings. One of Saturn's moons is Titan, the second largest moon in our Solar System, after Ganymede of Jupiter. Shrouded in a dense orange mist, Titan is famous for its frozen clouds of methane, and hydrocarbon seas and lakes. Titan's thick, veiling atmosphere is composed of a wonderful icy soup of compounds very much like those thought to have been present in Earth's primordial atmosphere. Titan's thick atmosphere--which is much denser than Earth's atmosphere--contains mostly nitrogen, like that of our own planet. But Titan's atmosphere also contains significantly greater percentages of such so-called "smoggy" chemicals as methane and ethane. The smog on Titan is so extremely dense that it actually rains "gasoline-like" liquids down on the surface of this bizarre world. Indeed, some of the chemicals discovered in Titan's atmosphere might indicate that simple and primitive methane-based life (methanogens), might dwell on this truly weird moon.