Moon and Mercury 3/8/07

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1 The

2 Reading Assignment Chapter 12 Announcements 4 th homework due March 20 (first class after spring break) Reminder about term paper due April 17. Next study-group session is Monday, March 19, from 10:30AM-12:00Noon in room 330.

3 Our Moon is one of seven large satellites in the solar system (it is the 4 th largest)

4 The Moon keeps nearly the same face to the Earth at all times Full Moon Seen from Earth Far Side of the Moon (Apollo 16)

5 The Moon is in 1:1 synchronous rotation with the Earth it rotates once on its axis every complete orbit around the Earth

6 The Moon always faces the Earth because of tidal forces due to Earth Illustration of the origin of the tidal force The tidal force is a secondary effect of the force of gravity. It arises because of the difference in gravitational force across a body For an orbiting body experiencing tidal forces, there is a gradual dissipation of rotational energy and the object s rotation rate slows down This happened to the Moon, and will also eventually happen to Earth We will see tidal forces again as the course goes on

7

8 Exploration of the Moon Most heavily explored extraterrestrial body First flyby 1959 (USSR) Unmanned orbiters, landers throughout 1960s Apollo astronaut missions, US, landings, 12 astronauts Only extraterrestrial body visited by humans Luna robotic sample return, USSR, Three robotic sample returns Clementine orbiter 1994 Lunar Prospector orbiter, Intentionally Crashed into the Moon Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (fall 2008)

9 Visible Lunar Features The Earth-facing side of the Moon displays light-colored, heavily cratered highlands and dark-colored, smooth-surfaced maria PTYS/ASTR The Moon s 206 far side has almost Moon and no Mercury maria

10 The Surface Features on the Moon Impact Craters Formed by impacts from asteroids and comets Maria Younger and Darker Fewer craters Highlands Older and Brighter Lots of craters Regolith Fine powdery dust-like material Footprints left behind by 12 astronauts No evidence for plate tectonics or volcanoes

11 The Origin of the Lunar Maria The maria formed after the surrounding light-colored terrain, so they have not been exposed to meteoritic bombardment for as long and have fewer craters They are nearly circular, which suggests an impact (a large one!)

12 Formation of Mare

13 Wrinkled-looking edges indicate cooled and solidified ancient lava flows Rimae and Rilles: rivers indicating ancient lava flows Sea of Serenity

14 The close association of the observed iron content on the lunar surface with the lunar maria confirms the theory of their origin (iron-rich lavas) This iron may be a combination of that left by the impactor, or from deeper within the moon where there is slightly more iron than on the surface These images were produce by the unmanned Clementine probe

15 Water Ice on the Moon? Water evaporates in sun-exposed regions Permanently shadowed spots cold enough for H 2 O ice (from comet/asteroid impacts) to stay Could only happen in craters near poles Clementine radar reflection looks like ice Lunar Prospector thermal neutrons detected (evidence of H 2 O ice) Prospector intentionally crashed into crater, but no plume of water detected Is there water ice? Probably, but not definitely If it is -- good place for lunar base Perhaps as much as 300 million metric tons of water ice!

16 All of the lunar rock samples are igneous rocks formed largely of minerals found in terrestrial rocks Mare basalt Found in maria, similar to Earth basalts The lunar rocks contain no water (distinctly different from Earth rocks) They generally differ from terrestrial rocks in being relatively enriched in the refractory elements and depleted in the volatile elements Highlands anorthosite Oldest, found in highlands Impact breccia found in highlands (fused material from impacts)

17 Lunar rocks reveal a geologic history quite unlike that of Earth The anorthositic crust exposed in the highlands was formed between 4.0 and 4.3 billion years ago The mare basalts solidified between 3.1 and 3.8 billion years ago The Moon s surface has undergone very little change over the past 3 billion years

18 Does the Moon have a Core? Evidence Density is low (matches rock, not rock + metal) Apollo program left seismometers Not many moonquakes Seismometers turned off in 1978 to save money If there s a core, it s small Lunar Prospector Mapped gravity in detail Concluded there s a core, 1-4% of total lunar mass Seismic Equipment on the Moon

19 The Moon has no global magnetic field but has a small core beneath a thick mantle

20 The Origin of the Moon What any theory needs to account for Density is nearly that of the rocks found there (i.e. not rock + metal, like Earth) Composition, other than Iron, is like the Earth The Giant-Impact Theory Early earth was impacted by a large object. A piece of Earth broke off and eventually formed the Moon The Iron in Earth was already at the center (differentiation had already taken place) The Iron in the impactor melted and was integrated into the Earth

21 Mercury The smallest planet (now that Pluto is no longer a planet) Avg. distance from the sun: AU Year: 88 days Day: 58.6 days 3 Mercury Days = 2 Mercury Years Eccentricity: hot. airless, Moon-like Daytime temp: +662 o F Nightime temp: -274 o F 1/3 size of Earth heavily cratered polar ices scarps Magnetic field and magnetosphere (like Earth, but weaker)

22 Earth-based Views of Mercury Mercury is difficult to observe from the Earth It is close to the Sun Never rises more than two hours before the Sun Never sets more than two hours after the Sun

23 Viewing Mercury from Earth At its greatest eastern and western elongation, Mercury is never more than 28 from the Sun It can be seen for only brief periods just after sunset or before sunrise

24 Occasionally, Mercury moves in front of the Sun (one of only two planets that can do this!) There was a transit on November 8, 2006 There will not be another for 10 years Transits occur about twelve times a century when the Sun, Earth and Mercury are aligned

25 Mercury has a slow rotation period (long days and nights) Long believed (incorrectly) to be 88 days Difficult to tell because it is so hard to observe from Earth Ground based radar found it to be about 59 days! Used Doppler shift in radar signals sent from Earth Arecibo radio telescope, Puerto Rico

26 Mercury s 3:2 spin/orbit ratio Mercury turns on its axis 1 ½ times in one complete orbit about the Sun This is a 3:2 spinorbit resonance

27 Strong tidal effects, Mercury s slightly elongated shape and its very eccentric orbit cause this strange 3-to-2 orbit A day of solar light on Mercury would be 88 earth days

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