Wednesday, 25 February 2009

S283: Book 1 - An Introduction to the Solar System

Book 1 is a fairly weighty tomb, but about the size of the S282 books, and similar to the 2nd book in the course as it happens. Its 412 pages in total, and split into 9 chapters.

Chapter 1 is an introduction to the solar system. We briefly visit all the major bodies of the solar system in turn and look at the general layout of things. It gets you oriented into whats where and what will be looked at in the next few pages.

Chapter 2 looks at terrestrial type planets and their internal structure. There is a fair smattering of geology in this part, and stuff about tectonics and inner cores and stuff like that. There is also some parts on what happened over its life as the rocks were 'cooked' and changed.

Chapter 3 looks in depth at volcanism. So there is a lot about volcanoes and eruptions of lavas and what that can do to surfaces. It also considers cryovolcanism, where water and ice errupt in the more frozen worlds giving similar results.

Chapter 4 looks at planetary surfaces and in particular at cratering and what it can tell us about what has happened. We go into quite a lot of depth (NPI) on different types of crater and how they can be recognised.

Chapter 5 looks at plaentary atmospheres - for those lucky enoguh to have them. It also looks at clouds, and atmospheric motion, and the different layers that they tend to split into.

Chapter 6 looks at the gas giants, and what they're structure might be.

Chapter 7 is concerned with the more minor bodies of the solar system. So things like asteroids, comets, the Kuiper belt and even interplanetary dust.

Chapter 8 looks at how the solar system was formed, and what that was all about.

Chapter 9 ends up looking at meteorites and what they can tell us about what happened at various stages in its evolution.

So - that was quite a tour, but in some ways it wasn't as detailed as the earlier planets course I did. Many of the mechanisms we gone into in a lot more depth, but I didn't come out of it feeling I knew a lot more about the planets, but knowing a fair bit more about their formation.

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