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Contents:
  1. Drama on a planetary scale
  2. The Madness of the Planets - Issue 8: Home - Nautilus
  3. On iPlayer
  4. Gustav Holst's 'The Planets': a guide
  5. The Planets: Jupiter

Born together, they battled the violence of the early Solar System to become stable planets.

Drama on a planetary scale

For a while each had a moment when they experienced almost Earth-like conditions. In contrast, today Mercury is a scorched world bearing the scars of its primordial richness in volatile elements. Venus is a runaway greenhouse world with a hothouse atmosphere and Mars is a frozen desert. Only on Earth do oceans — and life — persist, although billions of years from now its fate will replicate that of its sister planets. Sadly, with the decay of its magnetic field Mars also lost most at its atmosphere and with that almost all its water.

Today, Mars is an arid desert world that long ago had similar potential to the Earth. Which begs a big question: did life get a start on both worlds? In search of the answer, plans are afoot to take humans to the red planet; so perhaps one-day soon we will become the Martians. Its enormous mass allows it to influence the other planets - it has changed their orbits and flung asteroids and comets both inwards and out of the Solar System.

Jupiter stunted the growth of Mars, a planet that might otherwise have grown as large as Earth, and might have obliterated every last rocky world as it migrated inwards towards the Sun, if a tussle with another giant - Saturn - had not brought it back from the brink. Its tidal forces torment its moon Io, creating the most volcanically active body in the Solar System. Raised in the freezing distant reaches of the solar system Saturn began as a strange planet of rock and ice.

Born beyond the snow line, with an abundance of building materials, it soon grew to dwarf the Earth, drawing in colossal amounts of the hydrogen and helium that permeated the early Solar System. In time Saturn was transformed into a gas giant, ring-less and similar looking to its great rival, Jupiter. In a truly cataclysmic event the entire moon was destroyed and the rings where born. There we discovered an internal ocean sandwiched between ice and rock, with similar conditions to places on Earth where life thrives, fed by chemical energy where hot springs emerge onto the ocean floor.

Uranus — barely visible to the naked eye - was once thought to be the furthest planet from the Sun. But with the telescope and some careful viewing the more distant planet Neptune was discovered. Thanks to a rare alignment of the planets in , Voyager 2 was sent for our only flyby of these two ice worlds.

The Madness of the Planets - Issue 8: Home - Nautilus

There we discovered far more vibrant planets that we ever imagined. Even at such cold temperatures, great storms whip around these frozen worlds that are home to spectacular moons and intricate ring systems. After a few hours of observation at each planet, Voyager 2 left them behind. We have never returned. Once again, all our assumptions about this distant world were wrong. Download a copy now!

Professor Stephen Lewis investigates Do images of planets produced from spacecraft data really illustrate the true look of each planet? Professor David Rothery investigates Names for features provide essential points reference on planetary surfaces.

Professor David Rothery explains how planetary scientists choose these names We live in a society that depends on science, but how many of us really understand the science behind the important issues that feature in the news? Whether you are keen to study a specific area of science or are not yet sure whether your interest lies — say — in physics or biology, then this degree is for you.

It starts with a wide-ranging introduction to highly topical areas of modern science, and then offers the chance to specialise as you develop your interests. Pathways include biology; chemistry; Earth sciences; environmental sciences; physics; and astronomy and planetary science. Flexible, accessible study arrangements mean you can do all the practical work near where you live or online in your own home, but taking part in laboratory and field work at specific locations may be an option for some pathways.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The flexibility of our Combined STEM degree allows you to build your own degree from a wide range of STEM modules and study routes, including psychology and sports science? This introductory science module encompasses astronomy and planetary science; biology; chemistry; earth and environmental sciences; and physics.

A series of questions, starting with 'Can you make a hole in water? You will undertake a number of practical experiments, both 'hands-on' in your own home and online. This module is the entry point for the natural sciences degree, and develops generic study skills, maths skills and investigative skills alongside key concepts in science. This module tackles fundamental questions about our solar system. How did it form and how has it evolved? Why aren't all the planets like Earth?


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How and why did life arise on Earth? Has life arisen elsewhere in the Solar System or beyond, and could it be intelligent? You'll look at the exploration of the Solar System by spacecraft; planetary processes such as volcanism and impacts; the structure of planets and their atmospheres; and asteroids, comets and meteorites.

On iPlayer

You'll use web-based resources and electronic conferencing extensively. Although the module is intended for a wide range of people, a background in science is required. Spacecraft missions play a vital role in the exploration of the solar system and the more distant universe. This module introduces, in depth, the methods of conducting scientific measurements in the space environment and the technologies behind spacecraft and space missions.

Proms 2016 - Gustav Holst - The Planets [Edward Gardner, National Youth Orchestra]

The module makes extensive use of online remote experiments and facilities to develop your practical scientific skills and to allow you to engage in collaborative team-working activities that are the hallmark of spacecraft operations. The module is good preparation for further academic research in space science, and develops skills and knowledge that are relevant to employment in the space sector.

That is how Earth came to be. That is how it exists today. T he belief that Earth and the rest of the solar system were born in largely their present form—the arrangement and characteristics of the planets almost preordained—has deep, clinging roots in the history of science. It extends further than Newton, back to the influential writings of the 13th-century monk Johannes de Sacrobosco, who described the universe in terms of clean, geometric patterns.

You could plausibly draw a line all the way to the perfect heavenly spheres of Aristotle. Amazingly, the same basic philosophy built atop a very different scientific foundation persisted well into the Space Age. In retrospect, that simple and comforting view had begun to unravel long before most scientists recognized what was happening.

Gustav Holst's 'The Planets': a guide

As far back as the s, theoretical models trying to simulate the formation of the solar system kept coming up with an unwanted result: The planets migrated wildly, toward and away from the sun, making a royal mess of things in the process. The idea languished for a couple decades until a series of scene-shifting discoveries forced the theorists to reconsider. In , two Swiss astronomers detected 51 Pegasi b, a planet orbiting a dim yellow star located 50 light years away in the constellation Pegasus.

It was the first world found orbiting another star similar to the sun. The planet is a gassy, Jupiter-size giant, the kind of world that theoretically can form only in the cool regions far from its parent star.

But there was 51 Pegasi b, hugging close in a searing-hot orbit. The only sensible explanation astronomers could come up with was that the planet had formed far out and then somehow shifted sharply inward. It was not. Within a year, a competing American team discovered two more hot Jupiters; several dozen similar worlds are now catalogued.

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The Planets: Jupiter

As astronomers got better at searching, they started to find a number of other improbable planets. Some were in highly oval orbits; some revolved around their stars at a steep angle, or even backward. Such arrangements did not seem physically possible unless the planets had migrated dramatically at some point. If that process happened around other stars, it could have happened here as well.

In , Walsh was a postdoctoral fellow at the Nice Observatory, where he collaborated with Morbidelli.


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Walsh was already an expert in solar system dynamics; now he became fascinated by the concept of migrating planets and buried himself in the details of how the process would work. He focused on the earliest stages of solar system formation while Morbidelli tackled a later, secondary instability.