Armstrong, Neil

Neil A. Armstrong was an American astronaut. He was the first person to set foot on the moon. Image credit: NASA Born in 1930, Neil A. Armstrong, a United States astronaut, was the first person to set foot on the moon. On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle on the moon. Armstrong left the module and explored the lunar surface. Upon taking his first step onto the moon, he said: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." But the word a was lost in radio transmission. Armstrong was born on Aug. 5, 1930, on his grandparents' farm in Auglaize County, Ohio. He moved with his family to several Ohio communities before they settled in Wapakoneta when Neil was 13 years old. Armstrong developed an interest in flying at an early age. His love of airplanes grew when he went for his first plane ride in a Ford Tri-Motor, a "Tin Goose," at the age of 6. From then on, he was fascinated by aviation. In 1947, Armstrong entered Purdue University. He began studies in aeronautical engineering. But in 1949, the United States Navy called him to active duty. Armstrong became a Navy pilot and was sent to Korea in 1950, near the start of the Korean War. In Korea, he flew 78 combat missions in Navy Panther jets. In 1952, Armstrong returned to Purdue. He earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering there in 1955. Armstrong was a civilian test pilot assigned to test the X-15 rocket airplane before becoming an astronaut in 1962. He made his first space flight in 1966 on Gemini 8 with David R. Scott. The two men performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space -- the Gemini 8 and an uninhabited Agena rocket. Armstrong resigned from the United States astronaut program in 1970. Also in 1970, he earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Southern California. From 1971 to 1979, Armstrong was a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati. In 1986, he was named vice chairman of a presidential commission investigating the breakup of the space shuttle Challenger. From 1982 to 1992, Armstrong served as chairman of the board of Computing Technologies for Aviation, a company that develops software for flight scheduling. An artificial satellite is a manufactured object that continuously orbits Earth or some other body in space. Most artificial satellites orbit Earth. People use them to study the universe, help forecast the weather, transfer telephone calls over the oceans, assist in the navigation of ships and aircraft, monitor crops and other resources, and support military activities. Artificial satellites also have orbited the moon, the sun, asteroids, and the planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. Such satellites mainly gather information about the bodies they orbit.

Piloted spacecraft in orbit, such as space capsules, space shuttle orbiters, and space stations, are also considered artificial satellites. So, too, are orbiting pieces of "space junk," such as burned-out rocket boosters and empty fuel tanks that have not fallen to Earth. But this article does not deal with these kinds of artificial satellites. Artificial satellites differ from natural satellites, natural objects that orbit a planet. Earth's moon is a natural satellite. The Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957. Since then, the United States and about 40 other countries have developed, launched, and operated satellites. Today, about 3,000 useful satellites and 6,000 pieces of space junk are orbiting Earth. Satellite orbits Satellite orbits have a variety of shapes. Some are circular, while others are highly elliptical (eggshaped). Orbits also vary in altitude. Some circular orbits, for example, are just above the atmosphere at an altitude of about 155 miles (250 kilometers), while others are more than 20,000 miles (32,200 kilometers) above Earth. The greater the altitude, the longer the orbital period -- the time it takes a satellite to complete one orbit. A satellite remains in orbit because of a balance between the satellite's velocity (speed at which it would travel in a straight line) and the gravitational force between the satellite and Earth. Were it not for the pull of gravity, a satellite's velocity would send it flying away from Earth in a straight line. But were it not for velocity, gravity would pull a satellite back to Earth. To help understand the balance between gravity and velocity, consider what happens when a small weight is attached to a string and swung in a circle. If the string were to break, the weight would fly off in a straight line. However, the string acts like gravity, keeping the weight in its orbit. The weight and string can also show the relationship between a satellite's altitude and its orbital period. A long string is like a high altitude. The weight takes a relatively long time to complete one circle. A short string is like a low altitude. The weight has a relatively short orbital period. Many types of orbits exist, but most artificial satellites orbiting Earth travel in one of four types: (1) high altitude, geosynchronous; (2) medium altitude, (3) sun-synchronous, polar; and (4) low altitude. Most orbits of these four types are circular. A high altitude, geosynchronous orbit lies above the equator at an altitude of about 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers). A satellite in this orbit travels around Earth's axis in exactly the same time, and in the same direction, as Earth rotates about its axis. Thus, as seen from Earth, the satellite always appears at the same place in the sky overhead. To boost a satellite into this orbit requires a large, powerful launch vehicle. A medium altitude orbit has an altitude of about 12,400 miles (20,000 kilometers) and an orbital period of 12 hours. The orbit is outside Earth's atmosphere and is thus very stable. Radio signals sent from a satellite at medium altitude can be received over a large area of Earth's surface. The stability and wide coverage of the orbit make it ideal for navigation satellites. A sun-synchronous, polar orbit has a fairly low altitude and passes almost directly over the North and South poles. A slow drift of the orbit's position is coordinated with Earth's movement around the sun in such a way that the satellite always crosses the equator at the same local time on Earth. Because the satellite flies over all latitudes, its instruments can gather information on almost the entire surface of

Earth. One example of this type of orbit is that of the TERRA Earth Observing System's NOAA-H satellite. This satellite studies how natural cycles and human activities affect Earth's climate. The altitude of its orbit is 438 miles (705 kilometers), and the orbital period is 99 minutes. When the satellite crosses the equator, the local time is always either 10:30 a.m. or 10:30 p.m. A low altitude orbit is just above Earth's atmosphere, where there is almost no air to cause drag on the spacecraft and reduce its speed. Less energy is required to launch a satellite into this type of orbit than into any other orbit. Satellites that point toward deep space and provide scientific information generally operate in this type of orbit. The Hubble Space Telescope, for example, operates at an altitude of about 380 miles (610 kilometers), with an orbital period of 97 minutes. Types of artificial satellites A weather satellite called the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite observes atmospheric conditions over a large area to help scientists study and forecast the weather. Image credit: NASA Artificial satellites are classified according to their mission. There are six main types of artificial satellites: (1) scientific research, (2) weather, (3) communications, (4) navigation, (5) Earth observing, and (6) military. Scientific research satellites gather data for scientific analysis. These satellites are usually designed to perform one of three kinds of missions. (1) Some gather information about the composition and effects of the space near Earth. They may be placed in any of various orbits, depending on the type of measurements they are to make. (2) Other satellites record changes in Earth and its atmosphere. Many of them travel in sun-synchronous, polar orbits. (3) Still others observe planets, stars, and other distant objects. Most of these satellites operate in low altitude orbits. Scientific research satellites also orbit other planets, the moon, and the sun. Weather satellites help scientists study weather patterns and forecast the weather. Weather satellites observe the atmospheric conditions over large areas. A communications satellite, such as the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) shown here, relays radio, television, and other signals between different points in space and on Earth.

Some weather satellites travel in a sun-synchronous, polar orbit, from which they make close, detailed observations of weather over the entire Earth. Their instruments measure cloud cover, temperature, air

The network of weather satellites in these orbits also function as a search and rescue system. geosynchronous orbit over a ground station. A ground station has a large dish antenna for transmitting and receiving radio signals. and to detect the spread of disease in crops and forests. to identify sources of pollution and study its effects. Computers on Earth combine and analyze the pictures. consistent illumination from the sun. and land vehicles and people on foot can use to determine their location. like this Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite. which show the amount of heat coming from Earth and the clouds. planes and ships. A communications satellite can relay several television programs or many thousands of telephone calls at once. They are equipped to detect distress signals from all commercial.pressure. Under constant. . receiving radio signals from one location and transmitting them to another. They follow sun-synchronous. The receiver calculates its distance from at least three satellites whose signals it has received. Other weather satellites are placed in high altitude. These satellites photograph changing cloud formations. Because these satellites always observe Earth at the same local time of day. They also produce infrared images. scientists can easily compare weather data collected under constant sunlight conditions. and the chemical composition of the atmosphere. they take pictures in different colors of visible light and non-visible radiation. and signals from a network can reach receivers anywhere on Earth. they can always observe weather activity over nearly half the surface of Earth at the same time. Communications satellites are usually put in a high altitude. The satellites send out radio signals that are picked up by a computerized receiver carried on a vehicle or held in the hand. such as television broadcasters and telephone companies. and land vehicles anywhere on Earth to determine their locations with great accuracy. Countries and commercial organizations. use these satellites continuously. Scientists use Earth observing satellites to locate mineral deposits. From these orbits. and many private. Communications satellites serve as relay stations. It uses this information to determine its location. Sometimes. precipitation. A navigation satellite. ships. Image credit: NASA Navigation satellites enable operators of aircraft. polar orbits. work together by relaying information to each other and to users on the ground. a group of low orbit communications satellites arranged in a network. called a constellation. Hikers and other people on foot can also use the satellites for this purpose. sends signals that operators of aircraft. to determine the location and size of freshwater supplies. ships. Navigation satellites operate in networks. Earth observing satellites are used to map and monitor our planet's resources and ever-changing chemical life cycles. geosynchronous orbits.

can detect the launch of missiles. A satellite's instruments and subsystems are designed. In addition to such mission-specific instruments. the course of ships at sea. and distributes a satellite's electric power. communications. Then the satellite is tested under conditions like those that the satellite will encounter during launch and while in space. It is like an orbiting robot. and Earth observing satellites used for military purposes. groups of devices that help the instruments work together and keep the satellite operating. Workers install them on the satellite one at a time until the satellite is complete.often called "spy satellites" -. For example. send instructions to its computers. a power subsystem generates. navigation. helps scientists study ocean evaporation and other aspects of the movement and distribution of Earth's water. Computers and human operators at the control center monitor the satellite's position. Once a satellite is placed into a stable orbit. it is ready to be launched. A satellite that helps forecast the weather carries cameras to track the movement of clouds. built. Launching the satellite Space shuttles carry some satellites into space. and tested individually. A satellite does not usually receive constant direction from its control center. Built-in rockets called thrusters make these adjustments. Many satellites require minor adjustments of their orbit before they begin to perform their function. a satellite that studies the universe has a telescope. all satellites have basic subsystems. Aqua. This subsystem may include panels of solar cells that gather energy from the sun. It controls its solar panels to keep them pointed toward the sun and keeps its antennas ready to receive .An Earth observing satellite surveys our planet's resources. Performing the mission Most satellites operate are directed from a control center on Earth. and the movement of military equipment on the ground. Ground stations within the satellite's range send and receive the radio signals. The control center communicates with the satellite by radio. The life and death of a satellite Building a satellite Every satellite carries special instruments that enable it to perform its mission. it can remain there for a long time without further adjustment. Some military satellites -. For example. Military satellites include weather. but most satellites are launched by rockets that fall into the ocean after their fuel is spent. This satellite. stores. Command and data handling subsystems consist of computers that gather and process data from the instruments and execute commands from Earth. If the satellite passes all tests. and retrieve information that the satellite has gathered.

4. 31. the first animal to soar in space. Image . scientists have created new and more effective satellite instruments and have made use of computers and miniature electronic technology in satellite design and construction. Since the 1970's. In August 1960. It circled Earth once every 96 minutes and transmitted radio signals that could be received on Earth. more nations and some private businesses have begun to purchase and operate satellites. but the satellite remains capable of doing useful work. This satellite reflected radio signals back to Earth. In April 1960.commands. the satellite transmits information and receives instructions. It is one of thousands of asteroids in the asteroid belt. on Jan. the satellite rapidly compresses the air in front of it. sent pictures of clouds to Earth. During each contact.about 10 minutes. 1958. and its second. Satellites in a high altitude. Vanguard 1.000 satellites were operating in orbit. This air becomes so hot that most or all of the satellite burns up. Tiros I. the first artificial satellite. 1957. a region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Navy developed the first navigation satellites. the United States and the Soviet Union announced plans to launch artificial satellites. In some cases. Its instruments automatically collect information. operators from the control center will send a signal to shut it off.S. geosynchronous orbit are always in contact with Earth. History In 1955. If some part of a satellite breaks down. Ground stations can contact satellites in low orbits as often as 12 times a day. and nearly 3. the first weather satellite. 1957. the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1. Echo I. The Transit 1B navigation satellite first orbited in April 1960. On Nov. When the gravitational force pulls the satellite down far enough into the atmosphere. In rare instances. It carried a dog named Laika. Sputnik 2. On Oct. ground controllers can repair or reprogram the satellite. In addition. By 1965. on March 17. Each contact must be completed during the time the satellite passes overhead -. the satellite owner usually will continue to operate it. space shuttle crews have retrieved and repaired satellites in space. The U. the United States launched the first communications satellite. 1958. A satellite slows down due to occasional impact with air molecules in the upper atmosphere and the gentle pressure of the sun's energy. The United States launched its first satellite. more than 40 countries owned satellites. more than 100 satellites were being placed in orbit each year. If the satellite can no longer perform usefully and cannot be repaired or reprogrammed. Asteroid The asteroid Ida is about 35 miles (55 kilometers) long. By the early 2000's. 3. Explorer 1. the Soviets launched a second satellite. Falling from orbit A satellite remains in orbit until its velocity decreases and gravitational force pulls it down into a relatively dense part of the atmosphere.

close-range observation of asteroids by space probes. The average temperature of the surface of a typical asteroid is -100 degrees F (-73 degrees C). That year. called Gaspra. most known asteroids are the shattered remains of a smaller group of larger objects. The largest and first known asteroid. Asteroids in the second group. Composition Studies of an asteroid's reflected light as well as analyses of meteorites have provided information about the composition of asteroids. These asteroids formed from melted materials. Most of them are in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. In the second method. scientists began to use a fourth method -. Size Asteroids vary greatly in size. These asteroids are rich in carbon. Ceres. when the asteroid passes in front of a star and is silhouetted against it. Asteroids are also called minor planets or planetoids. These objects were left over from the time the planets formed. calculations involving distance and either light or heat yield the size of the asteroid.000 asteroids in the belt with diameters larger than 3/5 mile (1 kilometer). One group of asteroids dominates the outer part of the belt. It is 580 miles (933 kilometers) in diameter. One of the smallest. other such objects gathered together to form the planets and satellites. Elsewhere in the solar system. Measuring asteroids Until the 1990's. astronomers could determine the size of an asteroid in only three ways. is only about 20 feet (6 meters) across. According to the leading theory. discovered in 1991 and named 1991 BA. The third technique involves the use of radio telescopes to produce images of an asteroid. The amount of sunlight or heat reaching the earth depends on the size of the asteroid and its distance from the sun. Astronomers are not sure how the asteroids originated. In 1991. The belt contains more than 200 asteroids larger than 60 miles (100 kilometers) in diameter. Their composition has not changed much since the solar system formed. Ceres is believed to contain about 1/3 the total mass of all the asteroids. Therefore. however. In the first method. astronomers use a telescope to measure an asteroid during an occultation. which are located in the inner part of the belt. The asteroid. Scientists estimate that there are more than 750. they use telescopes to determine the asteroid's distance from the sun. Astronomers classify asteroids into two broad groups based on their composition. . and the amount of heat it gives off. was an irregularly shaped object measuring about 12 by 7 1/2 by 7 miles (19 by 12 by 11 kilometers). the amount of sunlight it reflects. There are millions of smaller asteroids.An asteroid is any of numerous small planetary bodies that revolve around the sun. are rich in minerals. the United States space probe Galileo took the first detailed photograph of an asteroid. was discovered in 1801.

In October 1998. the Japanese astronomer who first discovered them. Debris from the impact may have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The probe flew within only about 16 miles (26 kilometers) of the asteroid Braille in July 1999. the probe was renamed Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous-Shoemaker (NEAR Shoemaker) in honor of American astronomer Eugene Shoemaker. and Apollos -. The probe flew within 753 miles (1. Image credit: World Book map Many scientists believe that a near-Earth asteroid collided with Earth about 65 million years ago. Asteroid collisions The Chicxulub Basin along the northern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula formed when an asteroid hit the earth about 65 million years ago. . while others cross Earth's orbit. Some near-Earth asteroids cross the path of Mars. The asteroid is about 21 miles (33 kilometers) long. Many asteroids follow orbits outside the belt. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) probe. NASA launched a probe called Deep Space 1. NEAR flew past the asteroid Eros at a distance of 2.216 kilometers) of the asteroid Mathilde in 1997.829 kilometers). For example. In March 2000. Orbits Most asteroids follow elliptical (oval-shaped) orbits in the asteroid belt. In February 2001.378 miles (3. a number of asteroids called Trojans follow the same orbit as does Jupiter.Atens.Craters cover the surface of the asteroid Eros. Image credit: NASA In 1996. named after Kiyotsugu Hirayama. Groups of asteroids that follow the same orbit are called Hirayama families. Three groups of asteroids -. NEAR went into orbit around Eros in February 2000. about 1 1/2 times the length of Manhattan Island. the U. The next year. NEAR Shoemaker became the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid.S.orbit in the inner solar system and are known as near-Earth asteroids. Amors.

http://www. or physicians who have extensive research experience. World Book recommends the following format: Rudnyk. In 1908. Mission specialists may be engineers. Johnson Space Center in Houston. and conduct scientific experiments. 2005. Most payload specialists are scientists . such men and women are called cosmonauts. Cosmonaut means sailor of the universe. NASA launches astronauts into space aboard space shuttles. scientists. Russia then took over the program. or Marine Corps. The cosmonaut program was a project of the Soviet Union until the country broke up in Mission specialists work with pilots to maintain spacecraft and the equipment aboard. The gravitational pull of Jupiter and other large planets causes asteroid orbits to change very slowly. Some small fragments reach Earth's surface as meteorites.. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The asteroid created a huge circular depression called the Chicxulub (CHEEK shoo loob) Basin centered in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Those who are in the armed forces are paid according to their rank.S. How to cite this article: To cite this article. an object exploded about 6 miles (10 kilometers) above the Tunguska River area of Siberia.worldbookonline. In Russia and the other former republics of the Soviet Union." World Book Online Reference Center. China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003. Astronauts and cosmonauts operate spacecraft and space stations. Debris from the explosion flattened forests and burned an area about 50 miles (80 kilometers) across. Contributor: Marian E. B. A third kind of astronaut is called a payload specialist. They live and train at the Lyndon B. In addition. Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Consultant.triggering widespread environmental changes that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The civilians receive salaries based on an equivalent rank in the civil service system. Pilot astronauts command and pilot shuttles. Planetary Photogeologist/Astronomer. This kind of astronaut carries out scientific experiments involving the payload (cargo) on the spacecraft. This system includes almost all the federal government's civilian employees who are appointed rather than elected. Orbital changes lead to collisions that create smaller asteroids and fragments. The diameter of the basin is about 190 miles (300 kilometers). Rudnyk. The word astronaut comes from Greek words that mean sailor among the stars. Most U. increasing the chance of more collisions. NASA selects two kinds of astronauts for space flights: pilot astronauts and mission specialist astronauts. Astronaut An astronaut is a person who pilots a spacecraft or works in space.sometimes referred to as a small asteroid. Navy. They also conduct experiments and launch satellites. Most pilot astronauts are test pilots from the United States Air Force. particularly in the space program of the United States. Astronauts in the Chinese space program are sometimes called taikonauts. Taikonaut comes from the Chinese words tai kong (outer space).S. They are paid according to their military rank. Inc. astronauts work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Marian E. World Book. The object may have been a comet's nucleus or a large meteorite -. launch and recapture satellites. they perform spacewalks to work outside the spacecraft. "Asteroid.

Gagarin's flight lasted 1 hour 48 minutes. The craft. In the 1990's. and then worked aboard. They must be approved by NASA. . Both astronauts and cosmonauts helped build. Flights of the X-15 ended in 1968. China began developing a spacecraft designed to carry astronauts. a third cosmonaut. Gagarin of the Soviet Union became the first person to travel in space. John H. 1962. White II made the first spacewalk for the United States. cosmonaut Alexei A.who work for the owner of the payload. Cosmonauts train at the Yuri Gagarin Russian State Scientific-Research Test Center of Cosmonauts Training. also known as Star City. 1961. was in space for 3 days in 1963. near Moscow.Vostok is Russian for east. Less than three months later. The first woman in space. the first American in orbit. on May 5. Alan B. cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. Seven test pilots received this rating for flights in the X-15 rocket plane. the United States conducted a series of 10 two-person flights in Gemini spacecraft. Twenty years later.. This person can be a non-Russian "guest cosmonaut" or a Russian physician. Yuri A. On about half the Soyuz flights. Landings take place in remote. and the flight engineer is almost always a civilian. In 1964. Achievements in space On April 12. The commander is almost always a military jet pilot. This article discusses Astronaut (Achievements in space) (Accidents in space) (Selecting the astronauts) (A look at the astronauts) (Training the astronauts) (Astronauts on the ground) (The cosmonauts). He orbited Earth once in a Vostok capsule. resembles the Soyuz and lifts off from Jiuquan Space Launch Center in northern China. on June 3. Leonov became the first human being to step outside a spacecraft and float freely in space. Cosmonauts began making guest flights aboard space shuttles in 1994. The term astronaut also has a meaning that is not connected with NASA activities.. in Starry Town. astronaut Edward H. Shepard. Jr. near the Aral Sea in south-central Kazakhstan. Twenty-three days later. During those flights. Glenn. astronaut Sally K. Crews lift off from the Baykonur Cosmodrome. flat areas of Kazakhstan. Jr. the astronauts practiced maneuvering their craft and joining it to other orbiting space vehicles. He made a 15-minute flight in a Mercury capsule but did not go into orbit. usually called the cosmonaut researcher. In 1965 and 1966. Ride orbited Earth with four other crew members on a six-day mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Ride became the first American woman in space. They travel into space aboard vehicles called Soyuz. 1965. In June 1983. the International Space Station. the Soviet Union placed the first three-person spacecraft in orbit. Landings take place in remote areas of Inner Mongolia. The flight engineer is usually a member of the staff of the design bureau responsible for the craft. In the 1960's. the United States Department of Defense awarded the rating of astronaut to military and civilian pilots who flew aircraft higher than 50 miles (80 kilometers). This design was called Voskhod. called the Shenzhou. On March 18. is aboard. and astronauts began visiting Russia's Mir space station in 1995. became the first American space traveler. Unlike space shuttles. 20. A Soyuz carries two or three highly specialized cosmonauts. these vehicles are not reusable. which is Russian for sunrise. circled Earth three times on Feb.

Cosmonaut Valery Polyakov completed a record 438 days in space on March 22. cosmonauts established the first space station. 2004. Crippen orbited Earth more than 36 times during a flight lasting about 2 days 6 hours. the U. they became the first people to orbit a celestial body other than Earth. Traveling aboard Challenger. astronauts Neil A. Slayton. and relaunched a disabled satellite in April 1984. Astronauts first recovered. On July 17. astronauts aboard the shuttle Endeavour captured a satellite using only their gloved hands. His mission helped scientists study how extended periods of weightlessness affect the human body. The Apollo craft carried astronauts Thomas P.In 1967. They left five scientific stations on the moon and brought lunar dust and rock to earth. Stafford. and other early flights carried two. California. After many failures. the Soviets canceled their moon-trip projects. Young and Robert L. 15. Astronauts Charles Conrad. They landed the Apollo 11 lunar module. Space flights of the Apollo program. They then attached a special tool to the satellite so that a robot arm could hold it. the United States and the Soviet Union undertook their first joint space mission. cosmonauts began flying the Soyuz series of spacecraft. Aboard the Soyuz were cosmonauts Alexei A. Lovell. the ApolloSoyuz Test Project. Astronauts John W. 1969. In June 1971. and Donald K. 28. 1981. the first reusable spacecraft to carry a crew. In May 1992.S. Weitz live in Skylab for almost a month.. into space. project to land astronauts on the moon. In 1973. He orbited Earth aboard a Shenzhou spacecraft for 21 hours before landing safely. Accidents in space Space travel is risky. and a number of astronauts and cosmonauts have lost their lives in training or on . called the Eagle. Salyut 1. astronauts aboard Endeavour repaired the Hubble Space Telescope. however. Vance D. the five spacefarers conducted experiments in the docked craft. but the first crewed flight carried only one cosmonaut. Frank Borman. Brand.. On December 24 and 25 of that year. an Apollo spacecraft docked with a Soyuz craft. On June 21. On April 12. the United States launched the space shuttle Columbia. called Spacelab. They installed a device that made up for a defect in the telescope's main mirror. In doing so. the United States sent up a team of astronauts to operate its first space station. For two days. repaired. Kerwin. Polyakov spent this time aboard Mir. On Oct. Joseph P. 1995. In 1975. they used a Canadian-made robot arm to capture the satellite. Melvill piloted a rocket called SpaceShipOne. Leonov and Valery N. Yang Liwei became the first astronaut sent into space by China. the American test pilot Michael Melvill became the first astronaut to be launched into space by a private company. These are three-seat vehicles. and performed scientific experiments and collected rock samples. On Nov. James A. Other astronauts made five more moon landings from 1969 to 1972. Columbia carried the first Europeanbuilt research laboratory. Anders orbited the moon 10 times in 20 hours. The Soviet Union also tested spacecraft to send cosmonauts to the moon and land them there. began in October 1968. On July 20. In December 1993. Kubasov. Jr. The craft carried Melvill more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth on a brief suborbital flight. which was built and operated by Scaled Composites of Mojave. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to set foot on the moon. and Paul J. Jr. 1983. 2003. Skylab. and William A.

left to right. The astronauts -. Valentin V. citizen and must hold a bachelor's degree or higher in engineering. Astronauts returned to space on Sept.had been scheduled to fly the first Apollo spacecraft. Donald K. an Apollo spacecraft caught fire. NASA canceled this program and suspended all shuttle flights. Selecting the astronauts The first seven U. Challenger broke apart shortly after launch. All seven crew members were killed. All seven astronauts on board were killed. Jr. a Soviet cosmonaut trainee. Grissom. There is no age limit. On the return flight. Gordon Cooper. An applicant must be a U. Virgil I. who was aboard as part of a program to make the experience of space flight better known to the public. they conducted medical examinations of one another and carried out scientific studies. a teacher. Victor I. On Feb.selected for the Mercury program. In June 1971.000 hours as a command pilot in high-performance jet aircraft. They must be between 5 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 4 inches (163 and 193 centimeters) tall. Georgi T. A selection board normally picks a group of about 15 to 25 candidates every two years. Discovery's rocket boosters and many other features of the craft had been redesigned as a result of the Challenger disaster. 29. and Vladislav N. They included Christa McAuliffe.astronauts.S. The first mission in which people occupied a space station also ended in disaster. Image credit: NASA NASA accepts applications for pilot astronauts and mission specialist astronauts on a continuing basis. The first fatality in a space program occurred on March 23. Edward H. aboard the shuttle Discovery. Volkov boarded the experimental station Salyut 1 from their Soyuz 11 spacecraft. its parachutes failed to open properly.Virgil I. Scott Carpenter. After the Challenger disaster. 1961. M. and Roger B. all three cosmonauts died because of a sudden loss of cabin pressure in the Soyuz. Slayton. Schirra. and Alan B. Pilot astronaut candidates must have flown for 1. Komarov's flight was the first in which a Soyuz vehicle carried a cosmonaut into space. the shuttle Columbia broke apart as it reentered Earth's atmosphere. but every candidate must pass the NASA space flight physical flights. 1988. 1986. 1. cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov became the first person to die on a space flight. Patsayev. but they must have at least three years of related professional experience. 1967. 28. were. Candidates for mission specialist do not need flight experience. Dobrovolsky. 2003. 1967. 27. Walter M. a biological science. or mathematics. Grissom. Shepard. On Jan. Jr. died in a fire in a pressure chamber. White II.. Bondarenko. Komarov died when the Soyuz crashed to earth. killing the three astronauts inside. On April 24. During a ground test on Jan.S. Glenn. a physical science. John H. They must be between 5 feet and 6 feet 4 inches (152 and 193 centimeters) tall. During their 23-day mission.. Chaffee -. A look at the astronauts . When Komarov tried to land the vehicle. Jr.

and Donald K. NASA chose seven test pilots as the first group of astronauts and introduced them to the public on April 9. and Marine Corps pilot John H. mostly aboard the Russian space station Mir. set the world record for time in space by a woman. NASA picked 17 scientist astronauts. equipment. He was chairman of the Senate committee that had oversight responsibilities for the NASA budget.. Senator Edwin J. Congressman C. Resnik. After successfully completing this training. an American astronaut. They were physician Anna L. In 1998. physicist Sally K. France. In the 1960's. In 1978. they become astronauts. (Jake) Garn of Utah became the first elected official to fly in space. making him the oldest person ever to travel in space. From 1965 to 1967.S. Seddon. NASA chose the first woman to become a pilot astronaut. Training the astronauts Candidates for pilot and mission specialist undergo one year of general training at Johnson Space Center. Grissom. and the former West Germany. Navy pilots M. The group consisted of Air Force officers Gordon Cooper. and Alan B. Schirra.. Sullivan. He thereby became the first Canadian astronaut to travel in space. John Glenn. Japan. Ride. then a U. Virgil I. biochemist Shannon Wells Lucid. Walter M. Mexico. In 1985. and geologist Kathryn D. a commander in the Canadian Navy. Saudi Arabia. The next year. The training involves two major phases: (1) a general phase. and funding that make space flight possible. He was 77 years old at the time of the flight. NASA announced the selection of astronauts for upcoming flights of the space shuttle. Experienced astronauts lecture on such topics as how to communicate with astronauts in space. Canada selected six of its citizens to receive training for NASA missions. In this group were 15 pilot astronauts and the first 20 mission specialists. William Nelson of Florida flew aboard Columbia. involving classroom work. In 1996. returned to space aboard Discovery. NASA selected an additional 49 experienced jet pilots. Italy. Shepard. Fisher. physiology. Glenn. computer science. In 1990. All six held doctor's degrees. 1959.Since 1959. Germany. Scott Carpenter. Marc Garneau. Shannon Lucid. Ukraine. the Netherlands. Eileen Marie Collins. physics. and other subjects. Jr. NASA has also flown payload specialists from Belgium. Among the mission specialists were the first six women selected to become astronauts. In 1983. more than 250 astronauts have flown in space. she spent 188 days in space. Classroom work NASA brings in instructors from its research centers and from universities to teach aerodynamics. physician Margaret R. Slayton. senator. Jr. electrical engineer Judith A. Jr. . Other NASA personnel discuss the people. Israel. The next year. and then (2) more specific basic mission training and advanced mission training. flight training. flew aboard Challenger. Garn flew aboard Discovery. and survival training.

Skylab crews took classes in astronomy.that is. Candidates for pilot and mission specialist train for weightlessness in two ways. Survival training Survival training teaches candidates how to survive after an unplanned landing in water or in a forest. and check equipment in the mock-ups. Apollo astronauts studied the geology of the moon. Once mission specialist candidates learn to operate the aircraft . Instructors continually give the crew problems to solve to prepare them for emergency situations. candidates also prepare for the actual conditions of space flight. This operation was less difficult to carry out because the crew was very knowledgeable about all systems on board. For about 30 seconds during each arc. Iceland. flight mechanics. new astronauts continue to develop their skill while they wait for crew assignments. but astronaut candidates prepare for emergency bailout over water from shuttles and T-38's. Crew members spend as many as eight hours a day in the simulator. Basic mission training Basic mission training involves the study of cockpit layout and flight-control systems. For example. they fly about 4 hours per month. They also traveled to Hawaii. During such training. Floating in water also simulates (reproduces conditions of) weightlessness. geology. returning spacecraft landed in the ocean. After successful completion of the training program. Some become experts in several support or operational areas. In addition. The astronauts store items. These airplanes are designed to perform as a space shuttle does during landing. candidates practice survival training in the wilderness. Mock-ups are used to practice working and living in the close quarters of spacecraft. and life sciences to enable them to perform experiments and make observations. Pilots are also trained on a special airplanes called Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA). Training in simulators is valuable preparation for what the astronauts may later face on actual flights. This device can reproduce the events of an entire mission. they are towed through the water in a parachute harness to simulate being dragged by a parachute in a wind. Alaska. full-sized models of the spacecraft. Pilot candidates must fly 15 hours. the Apollo 13 astronauts used the oxygen and power supply of their lunar module to return home safely after an explosion damaged their main spacecraft. prepare foods. Astronauts also train in mock-ups -. In addition to those subjects. They also practice entering and leaving the spacecraft. astronauts spend most of their time training in simulators. Shuttle astronauts train in the Shuttle Mission Simulator (SMS). They experience the near absence of gravity as large airplanes fly through a series of arcing climbs and dives. Before shuttle flights. For example. and other places to study volcanic rocks similar to those on the moon. The tanks used for training purposes are known as the Weightless Environmental Training Facility (WETF) and the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL).Mercury and Gemini astronauts took courses in rocket engines. Advanced mission training Once assigned to a crew. Flight training Flight training takes place in T-38 jet aircraft. and navigation. in 1970. . The space shuttle lands on a runway. they float weightlessly in the padded body of the aircraft.

Germany.S. Russia. They eliminated the heat and isolation chambers. They also studied the operation of Russian space vehicles. Bulgaria. Also. Romania. France. Most of them have been from the Soviet Union and. Today. skill displayed by the astronauts led designers to give them more control over flying the craft. The early Soviet program also included training in heat chambers and an isolation cell. The first cosmonauts were military pilots. cosmonauts spend most of their time studying complex spacecraft systems and working in simulators. Japan. the United States. Kazakhstan. These cosmonauts' home countries include Afghanistan. program did not require such activities. The original training program involved constant athletic activity. Ukraine. Those on the ground relay information and instructions from flight controllers. the former East Germany. other astronauts help engineers find solutions. Mongolia. Poland. Astronauts have helped change the design of spacecraft and their operating systems. As the Soviets became more experienced in space travel. they learned that training did not need to be so demanding. Most were in their middle 20's. and parachute jumping over land and water. but the astronauts were expected to get into good physical condition on their own. Auroras are the most . Austria. Hungary. Syria. Astronauts preparing for spacewalks receive extra training in the WETF and the NBL. and many were sent to college after returning from space. Since 1964. running. In addition. and required less parachute jumping. An auroral display in the Northern Hemisphere is called the aurora borealis. the United Kingdom. For example. astronauts involved in the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz project and the visits to Mir in 1995 learned the Russian language. Aurora An aurora is a natural display of light in the sky that can be seen with the unaided eye only at night. motion sickness training became easier. They now spend several years preparing for space flight. South Africa. since 1991. Belgium. They also sat in a spinning. The Soviet Union and Russia have sent guest cosmonauts into space since 1978. or the northern lights. India. Italy. such as satellite repair tools The cosmonauts Since April 1961. Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia). The U. If problems develop. swinging chair that was designed to test for motion sickness. For example. engineers. Mercury astronauts insisted on a window in the capsule and a hatch that opened from the inside. about 100 cosmonauts have flown in space. The first cosmonauts spent less than two years in training. and scientists to the crew. A similar phenomenon in the Southern Hemisphere is called the aurora australis. Astronauts who worked in the Spacelab practiced operating special equipment and instruments needed to conduct experiments. Shuttle astronauts worked on the location of instruments and the modification of space suits. They also train with virtual reality systems. It included swimming. crews of cosmonauts could include civilian engineers and physicians. Slovakia. They also helped develop special equipment.Advanced training prepares astronauts for tasks that are not part of all missions. Astronauts on the ground Astronauts taking part in a space mission work on the ground as well as in space. and Vietnam. Cuba. cycling.

some get trapped. But displays that occur extremely high in the sky may be red or purple. Helicopters and other special aircraft are also important in military aviation. They range from small planes with room for only a pilot to enormous jumbo jets. Auroras occur most frequently during the most intense phase of the 11-year sunspot cycle. dark patches on the sun's surface. It also results in sharp variations in the earth's magnetic field called magnetic storms. Some extend lengthwise across the sky for thousands of miles or kilometers. They appear chiefly as arcs. and related electronic equipment. brighten. clouds. increase in number. When the charged particles strike atoms and molecules in the atmosphere.000 kilometers) above the earth. Most auroras occur in far northern and southern regions. and (2) the operation of airlines. Hundreds of thousands of airplanes are used throughout the world. To produce and operate all these airplanes requires the skills of millions of workers in many countries -. Field lines. especially airplanes. Most auroras occur about 60 to 620 miles (97 to 1. Aviation has also changed the way nations make war. Some move. airplanes affect the lives of people almost everywhere. The first successful airplane flights did not take place until 1903. During these storms. The manufacture of aircraft. Violent eruptions on the sun's surface. is often called . Electrons and protons released by solar flares add to the number of solar particles that interact with the earth's atmosphere.from the engineers who design the planes to the mechanics and pilots who service and fly them. The industry's two major activities are (1) the manufacture of aircraft and aircraft components. such as engines. and spray crops. auroras may shift from the polar regions toward the equator. A bar magnet has a magnetic field like that of the sun. This increased interaction produces extremely bright auroras. and streaks. Some of this energy appears in the form of auroras. which represent the field. Image credit: World Book diagram by Precision Graphics Auroral displays are associated with the solar wind.visible effect of the sun's activity on the earth's atmosphere. called sunspots. Yet today. Modern warfare depends on the instant striking power of jet fighters and bombers and the rapid supply capabilities of jet transports. which can carry hundreds of passengers. exit the north pole and enter the south pole. All these activities together make up the aviation industry. Farmers use airplanes to seed fields. Giant airliners carry passengers and cargo between the world's major cities in a matter of hours. Many government agencies also work to make flying safer and more dependable. energy is released. The most common color in an aurora is green. When these particles reach the earth's magnetic field. Many of these particles travel toward the earth's magnetic poles. or flicker suddenly. count livestock. are associated with sunspots. together with the manufacture of spacecraft. During this phase. known as solar flares. Aviation Aviation is a term that includes all the activities involved in building and flying aircraft. Planes and helicopters rush medicine and other supplies to the farthest islands and deepest jungles. a continuous flow of electrically charged particles from the sun. missiles.

several small factories in Europe and the United States were producing airplanes. The daring feats of the early fliers and the development of military airplanes greatly encouraged the growth of the aviation industry. The aviation industry The aviation industry can be divided into five branches: (1) aircraft manufacturing. 17. (4) airport operations. the governments of most nations have been deeply involved in its activities. (3) airline operations. The governments of various countries also began to buy airplanes to build small air forces. Almost from the beginning of the aviation industry. By the early 2000's. near Kitty Hawk. and (3) military planes. Most of the aircraft used around the world are manufactured in the United States. Although aviation includes all types of heavier-than-air craft. Russia also exports military aircraft to many other countries. Airplanes have such great importance as weapons of war that many countries have encouraged and financed improvements in airplane design for military reasons. North Carolina. (2) commercial transport planes. By the late 1930's. The aviation industry began on Dec. the world's airlines carried about 100 million passengers. Within a few years. kites. British Aerospace is the United Kingdom's major manufacturer of aircraft. Aircraft manufacturing Aircraft companies produce chiefly airplanes. Europe's other leading aircraft manufacturing countries are France. Germany. Orville and Wilbur Wright -. they carried about 1 1/2 billion people annually. and (5) aviation support industries. and wind tunnels. this article deals chiefly with airplanes. but many also manufacture gliders. the former Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies. and Spain. and how planes are built. In 1960. The Russian aerospace industry produces aircraft and equipment for use throughout the former Eastern bloc -. The Airplane article traces the history of human efforts to fly and the development of the airplane. Some parts factories and assembly plants are owned by conglomerates.two brothers who operated a bicycle-manufacturing shop in Dayton.made the world's first successful piloted airplane flights. This article discusses Aviation (The aviation industry) (Aviation agencies and organizations) (History of the aviation industry) (Careers in aviation). Many other nations have facilities for aircraft repair and maintenance.the aerospace industry. It also describes how a plane flies. Japan. and parts for spacecraft. They had built their airplane after studying the writings of other aviation pioneers and after experimenting with gliders.and air travel grew at an even faster rate. India.that is. Italy. Canada. helicopters. Israel. 1903. engineers developed jet airliners -. enormous corporations that control a number of firms in largely unrelated fields. Other countries with important aerospace industries include Brazil. That day. and South Africa. China. Then. Ohio -. To learn about the two other main types of heavier-than-air craft. (2) general aviation activities. Manufacturers produce three main types of airplanes: (1) general aviation planes. in the 1950's. how pilots navigate. Daredevil fliers bought many of these planes and used them to put on thrilling air shows. Most nations have also supported the development of civil aviation (the operation of nonmilitary aircraft). airplanes had become an important means of transportation. General aviation activities range from business and personal .

such as the Boeing Company. For example. many governments encouraged privatization of airlines to curb costs and increase efficiency. A modern jet airliner costs millions of dollars to build. a specialized aviation service called the Royal Flying Doctor Service supplies medical treatment to people living in remote areas. also called commuter airlines.S. Many companies have merged (combined) to cut costs. missiles. the Concorde. Airline operations Almost every country has at least one airline.receive large government contracts. is mostly state-owned. All aircraft companies in the United States and some other countries are privately owned. A number of European nations have cooperated in special aircraft-manufacturing projects. General Electric Company. During the 1990's. the British and French governments formed a partnership called a consortium to share the cost of building a supersonic transport (SST).usually fewer than 20 -. General aviation activities include pleasure flying. They serve small communities and provide connecting flights to large airports. Air ambulances in other parts of the world provide specially equipped airplanes to fly patients to hospitals. or four engines.flying to rescue services. Many businesses have their own aircraft that are used to fly officials and salespeople to out-of-town assignments. British Aerospace. Alitalia. The doctor may advise the patient by radio or may arrange for a light plane to pick up the patient. There are two main types of airline service -. In some countries. Airlines operate these planes. giving flying instructions.scheduled flights and nonscheduled flights. inspecting telephone lines. Another important general aviation activity is using light planes to provide transportation. In Australia. including Boeing. Some air taxi services have planes large enough to carry more than 20 passengers. and the largest. and spraying crops. three. twin-engine planes to carry passengers -. A small company cannot afford to build such a plane. Scheduled flights are made over certain routes according to a timetable. Commercial transport planes are large airplanes used to carry both passengers and cargo or cargo only.on short flights. and the Lockheed Martin. fighters. In some countries. Military planes include bombers. the government owns one or more airlines. manufacturers -. and military transports owned by the governments of various countries and operated by their armed forces. and even large companies often have trouble acquiring the necessary funds. The smallest commercial transports carry from 20 to 100 passengers. Many businesses use jets. Italy's national airline. land surveying. These mergers have produced some of the world's largest aerospace companies. . Many U. Nonscheduled flights are mainly charter flights for customers who want to hire a plane to fly to a particular place at a particular time. called jumbo jets or airbuses. carry several hundred. General aviation planes also carry cargo and passengers in areas of the world that do not have highways or railroads. Most commercial transports are jet planes with two. and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company. SST's were designed to carry passengers at speeds faster than that of sound. use compact. Some large airlines also provide air taxi service. But many depend heavily on government orders for military planes. the government wholly or partly owns some or all aircraft companies. or spacecraft. People who are ill or require medical advice use radio to contact a doctor at the nearest base. engines. scattering seed. Northrop Grumman. For example. Most general aviation planes are small propeller driven airplanes with one or two engines. and United Technologies corporations -. Most air taxi services.

In the 1970's. registration of airplanes and pilots. By the late 1990's. Aviation agencies and organizations Aviation agencies Most countries have government agencies that enforce air safety regulations and handle various economic matters relating to aviation. such as the rising cost of jet fuel. to which they are assigned. These steps led to huge increases in passenger traffic. such as helicopters or seaplanes. debts from purchasing new aircraft. Generally. though these lines may also make some nonscheduled flights. The members of an airline consortium cooperate in such matters as purchasing aircraft and training pilots. state has an agency to regulate and improve aviation within its borders. many airlines had also formed alliances for ticketing and for scheduling certain routes. In most European countries. many airlines cut their airfares and developed various bargain ticket plans to attract passengers.In the United States. These agencies handle airport construction. Additional small airfields serve light planes or specialized aircraft. This certificate states that the airplane has been inspected and is in good flying condition. Cities or public corporations own most large airports. the government has combined two or more airlines to form a large national airline. Various European airlines have also formed consortiums to help cut expenses. In the United States. Some insurance brokers specialize in flight insurance. Sometimes. Various food services prepare meals to be served on passenger flights. Most airlines carry both passengers and cargo. and passengers. Private weather bureaus supply pilots with specialized information not provided by government weather services. airlines must receive permission from the federal government to use commercial transport planes for scheduled flights. navigation aids. Most small airports are private airfields owned by organizations or individuals. every newly manufactured airplane must be issued an FAA certificate of airworthiness before it may be flown. an airline's planes and pilots must meet government standards. Some companies furnish repair services or fuel for airplanes. The FAA also issues licenses to pilots. Aviation support industries provide a wide variety of supplies and services to airlines. the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) establishes the rules that all planes must follow when flying in the United States. Almost every U. only a few of a country's airports have the facilities to handle large passenger planes. The term scheduled airlines is often used in the United States for the certificated airlines.S. and increasing costs. High operating costs led many small airlines to merge with larger airlines. and some lawyers specialize in air law. One of the agency's most important jobs is to operate a network of air route traffic control centers throughout the United States and its territories. The airlines that the government approves for such flights are called certificated airlines. Freight forwarders make arrangements for shipping air cargo. Many passenger airlines also operate transport planes that carry only cargo. Each control center uses radar and radio communications to help planes in its vicinity follow the airways. In addition. pilots. airports. To receive government certification. A few certificated airlines in the United States specialize in carrying cargo and do not make any passenger flights. Many . Airport operations Airports provide the fuel and the runways. also called air routes. and similar matters. and other ground facilities needed for air travel. airlines have financial problems due to low passenger traffic. Airliners usually carry a certain amount of freight on passenger flights.

In November 1909. and Frederick Handley Page. the Wright Company. and establishment of air navigation facilities.S. Roe. the U. In 1905. This was the first sale of a commercial airplane in the United States. M. In the 1890's. in Hammondsport. and pilots. other European fliers also started manufacturing companies. U. The organization sets up common air safety standards among member countries and tries to increase cooperation in other matters concerning international aviation. the brothers Charles and Gabriel Voisin. This was the world's first military plane. and various European governments. California. a young automobile mechanic and salesman named Glenn L. his . Other aviation organizations include various groups that were formed to further their own special interests. The Wright brothers had made their first official public flight in 1908 and amazed the world with their airplane's flying ability. Within a few years. Such agencies include the United Kingdom's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). and Canadian airline operators belong to the Air Transport Association of America. But they had never made an official public flight. After these flights. These groups include airline operators. They began making a few made-to-order planes at a small factory outside Paris. That same year. History of the aviation industry Beginnings The successful piloted flights of a powered airplane by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903 marked the beginning of the practical aviation industry. and government leaders were not convinced that their plane could fly. under the supervision of the Department of Transport. Within a few years. The International Civil Aviation Organization is an agency of the United Nations (UN). These agencies are involved in such issues as air-traffic control and registration of airplanes and pilots.000. O. and its headquarters in New York City. In 1907. In the autumn of 1909.local governments also have aviation agencies.S. Army Signal Corps ordered a specially built Wright plane. A. These agencies deal mainly with the operation and maintenance of local airports. Glenn H. started the world's first airplanemanufacturing company. Sopwith in the United Kingdom. Curtiss. an American flier and airplane designer.S. licensing of pilots. for which the government paid $30. V. deals mainly with such matters as registration of aircraft. the German glider pioneer Otto Lilienthal had manufactured a limited production series of special gliders for experimental use. a few European inventors had also built airplanes. airplane manufacturers. Operators of international airlines in countries throughout the world belong to the International Air Transport Association. For example. a group of wealthy Americans lent the Wright brothers money to start a manufacturing firm. Ohio. They included Louis Bleriot and the brothers Henri and Maurice Farman in France. New York. started the first airplane company in the United States. Curtiss sold his first plane to the newly organized Aeronautic Society of New York for $5. In Canada. The company had its factory in Dayton.000. Similar regulatory activities are carried out by national agencies in other countries. Almost every country belongs to the ICAO. The Canadian Transport Commission handles the economic regulation of Canadian airlines. The director of civil aviation. and T. the Wright brothers tried to sell the design for their plane to the U. Meanwhile. two French fliers. the federal government regulates civil aviation. Martin began to manufacture airplanes in an abandoned church in Santa Ana.

Fokker and Junkers in became a leading U. they had built almost 15. France. designers had created such aircraft as the British Vickers Vimy bomber and the American Curtiss NC-4. The United States entered the war in 1917 with about 110 military planes. even the largest airplane factories turned out only a few planes a year. both of which flew across the Atlantic Ocean in 1919. The law required anyone who owned or operated an airplane within the state to register the plane and obtain a pilot's license. founded in Santa Barbara. Connecticut passed the first state law regulating aviation. altitude. But American engineers designed a powerful airplane engine called the Liberty. producer of military planes. companies began to mass-produce the United Kingdom's de Havilland D.000 airplanes a year. and Bristol. The world's first great aviation meeting was held in 1909 near Reims. and Voisin built many of these planes. Various automakers helped set up assembly lines in the airplane factories. and Orville sold his interest in the Wright Company to a group of investors in 1915. Florida. Manufacturers displayed 38 airplanes. The Aero Club of America was also founded in 1905. a group of French flying enthusiasts established the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) in Paris. Boeing. 4 bombers and equip them with Liberty engines. de Havilland.a sign of growing confidence in the airplane. sponsored exhibitions and races. In 1916. Airplane builders used newly designed engines to put fighters and bombers into the skies.S. The principal producer was the Dayton Wright Aeroplane Company. two airplane companies were established on the West Coast of the United States. The government immediately set a production goal of 29. and other flying records. which was organized in 1917. The first flying regulations In 1905.S. Although Orville had no financial interest in the Dayton Wright Company. World War I (1914-1918) When World War I began in Europe. and issued licenses to U. Although U. But the airplane companies had little or no experience with mass-production methods. Short.S. had developed assembly lines before the war and used them to turn out thousands of cars yearly. The nation's automobile manufacturers. by the brothers Allan and Malcolm Loughead. By the end of the war. pilots.S. Hawker. It also ruled on world speed. factories did not meet their production goal of 29. The law required the registration of local aircraft and regulated their speed and altitude when flying over the town.000 planes a year. and the Lockheed Corporation (now Lockheed Martin Corporation). Several of the planes on show were offered for sale to the public -. Other European manufacturers also became famous for their warplanes.H. Several U. They were the Boeing Company. Wilbur Wright had died of typhoid fever in 1912. and Vickers in the United Kingdom. Such wellknown manufacturers as Farman. It regulated flying in the United States. In 1911. he allowed the firm to use the Wright name in its title. The United States had no designs of its own for bombers or fighters. But the factories quickly increased their production to meet the demands of the warring nations. founded in Seattle by William E. passed the world's first law regulating airplanes. One of the FAI's main duties was to regulate the sport of flying. In 1908.000 military planes by the end of the war. California. The FAI still has this function. They included Morane-Saulnier and Nieuport in France. on the other hand. Kissimmee. The companies founded by Curtiss and Martin also became major producers of military planes during the war. Handley Page. The Boeing and Lockheed companies were too small to make many planes during .

the federal government's main interest in aviation was to improve airmail service. Florida. began the world's first regular international airline service. By 1924. One of these airlines. mail. they carried more than 400. Henry Ford. The world's first regular airplane passenger service began in the United States in 1914. Imperial Airways. and several other European countries. 1918. airmail routes extended from New York City to San Francisco. Germany. they became two of the nation's leading aircraft manufacturers. Each light could be seen as far as 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. In the United States. But in time. Mail planes operated only during the day. the United Kingdom became the first major power to form a national. Beginning in the mid-1920's. In 1923. After World War I. It became the Douglas Company the following year. the governments of many countries started to combine two or more private airlines to form a large national airline.the war. They include KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (now part of Air France-KLM) of the Netherlands. government-owned airline. D. In 1925. Philadelphia. In 1920. night-flying techniques enabled planes to get mail from New York City to San Francisco in 24 hours. In 1910.S. Some of the airlines also began carrying passengers. the U.perhaps the first air freight shipment in history. the U. the government installed beacon lights at airports along the transcontinental route. founded by Henri and Maurice Farman. bombers were used to start nearly 20 small passenger airlines in France. Several of these airlines are still active. The government then signed contracts with 11 companies formed to carry the mail. In 1919. In 1930. the famous automobile maker. Several U. Ford's airline became the first airline to carry U. In 1926. Ohio -. owned one of these airlines.S. and later still part of the Boeing Company. The first airlines The Wright brothers and other early fliers occasionally took passengers for short plane rides. The Pratt . In 1924.000 passengers. and South America. A pilot named Tony Jannus used a small seaplane to fly passengers across Tampa Bay. an engineer named Donald Douglas helped organize an aircraft company in Santa Monica. however. Most people considered flying a dangerous sport rather than a safe means of transportation.S. Within a few months.000. but it lasted only a few months. In 1920. the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation was founded in East Greenwich. Germany's Lufthansa.C.S. all 11 companies were flying mail between major U. In 1926. aircraft companies were also started during the 1920's. which gave private airlines the job of flying the mail. Army pilots flew the mail between New York City. airlines in the United States carried only about 6.S. Belgium. By 1924. and Washington. Rhode Island. On May 15. Australia. Congress passed the Kelly Air Mail Act. between St. Aviation progress Many small passenger airlines were formed during the early 1920's. It took over the airplane designs of the Dayton Wright Company. the United Kingdom. But most lasted only a few months because they could not attract enough customers. later part of McDonnell Douglas Corporation. To help the mail pilots fly their open-cockpit planes at night. and Australia's Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services (QANTAS). California. thousands of military planes became available for civilian use. The company used old Farman bombers to make weekly passenger flights between Paris and Brussels. a Wright airplane flew 70 pounds (32 kilograms) of silk from Dayton to Columbus. passenger airlines were operating in 17 European countries as well as in Africa. cities. Petersburg and Tampa. government started the world's first permanent airmail service.

In 1929. U. New firms were also started in the 1930's. secretly made hundreds of bombers and fighters for the German air force. In 1938. and World War II began. fourengine seaplanes called flying boats.S. such as North American Aviation and United Aircraft (now United Technologies). A number of companies. By the late 1930's. A Bureau of Air Commerce was set up to carry out these measures. More than 40 companies took part in a gigantic effort to supply the United States and . The industry comes of age Air transport continued to grow during the early 1930's. larger airliners. In the mid-1930's. New York. in 1925. Smaller regional airlines included Braniff. and other German firms. Hawker. such as the Boeing 247 and the Douglas DC-3. Congress established the Civil Aeronautics Authority to deal with every aspect of civil aviation. which became the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) in 1940. It also included an administrative office. The huge Mitsubishi corporation produced many of Japan's warplanes. and Supermarine. manufacturers began to produce twin-engine planes. They included the famous Heinkel and Messerschmitt companies. Transcontinental and Western Air (later called Trans World Airlines). The authority included a five-member board. Finally. and United. The rapid growth of civil aviation created a need for more effective government regulation. such as Dornier and Junkers. Handley Page. the world's airlines carried nearly 3 1/2 million passengers. 1. flying boats made the first passenger flights across oceans. the U. German dive bombers attacked Poland. In 1938. several German aircraft firms were founded during the 1920's. including the famous Zero fighter. flying was an important means of travel in most of the world. This act was the first federal law to regulate aviation in the United States. The DC-3 appeared in 1935 and soon became the world's most popular transport plane. Messerschmitt. Eastern. which took over production of Pratt and Whitney engines. To meet the growing demand for faster.American.S. which. One European country after another fell to the Germans.100 military planes in 1939. British aircraft companies. Heinkel. the United States had four major domestic airlines -. Nevertheless. The country also had a major international airline -. By 1935. Grumman Aircraft (now part of Northrop Grumman Corporation) also started business in 1929 on Long Island. It provided for a system of airways and navigation aids across the country. The act also called for rules governing the manufacture of airplanes and the licensing of airplanes and pilots. Many European governments continued to form large national airlines. Delta. and Northwest. World War II (1939-1945) The peace treaty that ended World War I prohibited the manufacture of military aircraft in Germany. in 1940. 1939. the Curtiss and Wright companies merged to form the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. airplane production increased greatly.and Whitney Company began making aircraft engines in Hartford.Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) -. the United Kingdom was left nearly alone to fight off the German air force. The rapid increase in aviation activity led Congress to pass the Air Commerce Act in 1926. started to make large. Connecticut. The United States produced about 2. After the United States entered the war in December 1941.which flew to Latin America. became the Civil Aeronautics Board. In the 1930's. Both Germany and Japan had larger air forces. quickly increased their production of warplanes. such as Air France (now part of Air France-KLM) and Italy's Ala Littoria (now Alitalia). On Sept. such as Avro. including Martin (now Lockheed Martin Corporation) in the United States and Short in the United Kingdom. de Havilland.

Japan.S. British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). Germany. Another successful program has been Airbus. The beginning of jet airline service created new challenges. the Soviet Union. American companies also built successful jet transports in the late 1950's. This consortium. By 1942. in 1976. and fighters a year. several large aerospace companies were formed by mergers. American Airlines used the first of these -. jet transports had replaced propeller-driven planes on most major airlines. Pan Am became the first airline to offer jumbo jet service. aircraft production had become the world's leading manufacturing industry. the Concorde. development. using Boeing 747's. During the war. factories had built more than 300.its allies with military planes. bombers. and the United Kingdom had also produced many thousands of planes. By 1944. BOAC used the new Comets to begin jet passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean.000 aircraft. In 1954. De Havilland engineers then designed an improved Comet. aircraft manufacturers began the development of jet airliners. McDonnell Aircraft merged with Douglas Aircraft to form the McDonnell Douglas Corporation. new hazards were created along the world's air routes as airplanes flew faster and in greater numbers than ever before. this firm merged with Rockwell Manufacturing Company to become Rockwell International Corporation. British inventor Frank Whittle built the first successful jet engine. which manufactures commercial transport aircraft. and North American Aviation and Rockwell-Standard merged. U. In 1959. Industry mergers Beginning in the 1950's. Assembly lines began working round the clock. the U. both the United Kingdom and the United States had developed experimental jet planes for military use. . France and the United Kingdom began passenger service with their SST. The agency was given the job of establishing and enforcing air safety regulations and air traffic procedures in the United States. has involved most countries in Western Europe.the Boeing 707 -.000 transport planes. production had reached nearly 100. and these aircraft quickly dominated international air transportation. started jet passenger flights with de Havilland Comets. A new age of flight In 1937. and the crash of one of these planes could cause heavy loss of life. and production costs. The first jet airplanes were developed for military use. Many companies enlarged their factories and hired additional workers. forming the North American Rockwell Corporation. In 1973. Internationalization became an important trend in the aviation industry beginning in the 1960's. In 1952. In addition. After World War II. Germany flew the first jet aircraft in 1939. the General Dynamics Corporation took control of Consolidated Vultee (Convair). In 1958.S. But the flights were stopped after several Comets exploded in the air. In 1958. government combined the CAA and several other agencies to form the Federal Aviation Agency. now British Airways. Large jetliners carried nearly 200 passengers. The term refers to cooperative manufacturing programs in which firms from different nations share research. The consortium formed by the British and French to build the Concorde SST was an early program of this type. By the end of the start transcontinental jet service from New York City to Los Angeles. By 1970. In 1967. In 1970. It was renamed the Federal Aviation Administration in 1967. Investigators discovered serious flaws in the plane's structure.

often to other countries. In 1978.S. D. 11. Some U. airplane builders. The fourth hijacked plane crashed in Somerset County. Congress passed legislation requiring federal employees to handle all passenger and baggage inspection in U. airlines In the late 1970's. The ICAO develops procedures to help member countries establish consistent methods to prevent and investigate hijackings. terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes. took over air safety functions from the FAA. airlines also developed hub and spoke systems.C. or other weapons. Careers in aviation . The Civil Aeronautics Board was dissolved in 1984.a V/STOL (Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing plane) -. On Sept. which merged into Boeing. Airline safety concerns Beginning in the 1960's. hijackers throughout the world seized 49 airliners and forced the pilots to fly to destinations off their routes. several mergers in the 1990's led to the disappearance of historic U. Congress passed the Airline Deregulation Act.S. airports and airlines sought new ways to protect against terrorist attacks. Manufacturers in Canada. International partnerships became increasingly significant. In 1970. McDonnell Douglas produced the British-designed Harrier -. Many U. Fears of terrorism and a sluggish world economy contributed to a decline in air travel in the early 2000's. terrorist sabotage became a serious risk as several airliners were blown up in flight. Many U. also called air piracy. Italy. many flights connect at a central airport. In response to the hijackings. For example. Deregulation of the U. such as McDonnell Douglas.S. airliner hijacking.United States aviation firms moved slowly into internationalization in the 1970's. during the 1980's.S. the Transportation Security Administration. with Airbus capturing one-third of the world market in jet airliner sales in the 1990's. In the 1980's. New airlines soon began to form. In manufacturing. Pennsylvania. This law provided for the gradual removal of economic controls of the airline industry.S. In 2003. airlines formed alliances with overseas carriers to simplify ticketing. which began commercial service in 1971. became a serious problem. bombs. After the hijackings. airports by the end of 2002. A newly created agency. Recent developments Deregulation in the United States allowed domestic airlines to compete in many international markets. 2001. S. British Airways and Air France discontinued all Concorde flights because the flights were no longer profitable. deliberately crashing two into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and one into the Pentagon Building outside partnership with British Aerospace. and the United Kingdom produced major parts of the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 transport. These regulations include the inspection of aircraft.S. firms have formed partnerships with foreign companies to manufacture European-designed aircraft in the United States. passengers. and baggage for hidden guns. In such a system. U. Most countries have laws against hijacking and terrorism. But laws differ from country to country. the Civil Aeronautics Board began to ease its controls over airline fares and routes in the United States to encourage greater competition and better service. and existing ones rapidly expanded their services. aviation authorities tightened airport security regulations. Japan.

mechanics. Skilled mechanics are needed for airliner maintenance. and other skilled workers to make and assemble the many parts of airplanes. pilots. business firms. Most airlines require their flight engineers to have a commercial pilot license. Airlines prefer to hire flight attendants who have some college. business. Most pilots obtain their training at flying schools or in military service. Aeronautical engineering and some other highly skilled professions require a college education. and radio operator. pilots. aviation mechanics. flying instructors. mechanics. Characteristics of black holes . written. Some high schools and colleges also offer courses in flying. the engineers watch the many instruments in the cockpit that tell how the engines are operating.500 hours of flight time. electricians. they must be at least 23 years old. Some airlines use flight engineers.The aviation industry employs many kinds of skilled workers. air traffic controllers. machine tool operators. flying light planes for commercial purposes requires a commercial pilot license. airline pilots and copilots must have an FAA airline transport pilot license. airline pilots and copilots must obtain a special license. computer specialists. The industry also employs various types of engineers to design aircraft and experienced pilots to test-fly planes. and flight examinations. They include aeronautical engineers. In the United States. and other organizations that use light planes. For example. Jobs in general aviation Many pilots work for air taxi services. On long flights. mechanics. many jobs in the aviation industry require certification from the FAA. flight attendants. Many local aviation agencies also require engineers. Some large cities hire pilots to serve as flying police officers or to perform rescue services. radar specialists. and have a commercial pilot license and 1. Jobs with airlines and airports In most countries. In the United States. as well as written and flight examinations. To obtain this license. The theory was published in 1916. Jobs with government agencies. In the United States. and radio operators. They also hire mechanics and pilots to serve as safety agents. In many countries. Black Hole A black hole is a region of space whose gravitational force is so strong that nothing can escape from it. flight engineers. flight engineers. The fundamental descriptions of black holes are based on equations in the theory of general relativity developed by the German-born physicist Albert Einstein. A black hole is invisible because it even traps light. Government agencies in many countries hire radar and radio operators to work at air route traffic control centers and airport control towers. computer specialist. They must pass a thorough physical examination. or nursing training. the FAA issues these licenses to pilots 18 years old or over who have at least 200 hours of flying experience and who pass the physical. Some schools offer courses in preparation for such careers as aviation mechanic. Jobs in the aircraft industry Aircraft manufacturers hire electricians. and pilots must have FAA certificates. and other skilled people.

The gravitational force is strong near a black hole because all the black hole's matter is concentrated at a single point in its center. Physicists call this point a singularity. It is believed to be much smaller than an atom's nucleus. The surface of a black hole is known as the event horizon. This is not a normal surface that you could see or touch. At the event horizon, the pull of gravity becomes infinitely strong. Thus, an object can exist there for only an instant as it plunges inward at the speed of light. Astronomers use the radius of the event horizon to specify the size of a black hole. The radius of a black hole measured in kilometers equals three times the number of solar masses of material in the black hole. One solar mass is the mass (amount of matter) of the sun. No one has yet discovered a black hole for certain. To prove that a compact object is a black hole, scientists would have to measure effects that only a black hole could produce. Two such effects would be a severe bending of a light beam and an extreme slowing of time. But astronomers have found compact objects that are almost certainly black holes. The astronomers refer to these objects simply as "black holes" in spite of the small amount of uncertainty. The remainder of this article follows that practice. Formation of black holes According to general relativity, a black hole can form when a massive star runs out of nuclear fuel and is crushed by its own gravitational force. While a star burns fuel, it creates an outward push that counters the inward pull of gravity. When no fuel remains, the star can no longer support its own weight. As a result, the core of the star collapses. If the mass of the core is three or more solar masses, the core collapses into a singularity in a fraction of a second. Galactic black holes Most astronomers believe that the Milky Way Galaxy -- the galaxy in which our solar system is located -- contains millions of black holes. Scientists have found a number of black holes in the Milky Way. These objects are in binary stars that give off X rays. A binary star is a pair of stars that orbit each other. In a binary system containing a black hole, that object and a normal, visible star orbit one another closely. As a result, the black hole strips gas from the normal star, and the gas falls violently toward the black hole. Friction between the gas atoms heats the gas near the event horizon to several million degrees. Consequently, energy radiates from the gas as X rays. Astronomers have detected this radiation with X-ray telescopes. Astronomers believe that a number of binary star systems contain black holes for two reasons: (1) Each system is a source of intense and variable X rays. The existence of these rays proves that the system contains a compact star -- either a black hole or a less compact object called a neutron star. (2) The visible star orbits the compact object at such a high velocity that the object must be more massive than three solar masses. Supermassive black holes Scientists believe that most galaxies have a supermassive black hole at the center. The mass of each of those objects is thought to be between 1 million and 1 billion solar masses. Astronomers suspect that supermassive black holes formed several billion years ago from gas that accumulated in the centers of the galaxies.

There is strong evidence that a supermassive black hole lies at the center of the Milky Way. Astronomers believe this black hole is a radio-wave source known as Sagittarius A* (SgrA*). The clearest indication that SgrA* is a supermassive black hole is the rapid movement of stars around it. The fastest of these stars appears to orbit SgrA* every 15.2 years at speeds that reach about 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) per second. The star's motion has led astronomers to conclude that an object several million times as massive as the sun must lie inside the star's orbit. The only known object that could be that massive and fit inside the star's orbit is a black hole Christiaan Huygens Christiaan Huygens, (HY guhnz), (1629-1695), was a Dutch physicist, astronomer, and mathematician. In 1678, Huygens proposed that light consists of series of waves. He used this theory in investigating the refraction (bending) of light. Huygens's wave theory competed for many years with the corpuscular theory of the English scientist Isaac Newton. Newton maintained that light is made up of particles. Today, scientists believe that light behaves as both a particle and a wave. Huygens was born on April 14, 1629, in The Hague, the Netherlands. He studied mathematics and law at the University of Leiden and the College of Orange at Breda. Huygens worked with his brother Constantijn to develop skill in grinding and polishing spherical lenses. With these lenses, they built the most powerful telescopes of their time. Huygens also discovered Saturn's moon Titan and asserted that what astronomers called "Saturn's arms" was a ring. In mathematics, he refined the value of pi . In the 1650's, Huygens invented a clock with a freely suspended pendulum. He died on July 8, 1695. The European Space Agency honored Huygens's discovery of Titan by naming a space probe after him. The Huygens probe, designed to drop through Titan's atmosphere, was launched aboard the Cassini spacecraft in 1997

Halley's Comet becomes visible to the unaided eye about every 76 years as it nears the sun. A comet (KOM iht) is an icy body that releases gas or dust. Most of the comets that can be seen from Earth travel around the sun in long, oval orbits. A comet consists of a solid nucleus (core) surrounded by a cloudy atmosphere called the coma and one or two tails. Most comets are too small or too faint to be seen without a telescope. Some comets, however, become visible to the unaided eye for several weeks as they pass close to the sun. We can see comets because the gas and dust in their comas and tails reflect sunlight. Also, the gases release energy absorbed from the sun, causing them to glow. Astronomers classify comets according to how long they take to orbit the sun. Short-period comets need less than 200 years to complete one orbit, while long-period comets take 200 years or longer. Astronomers believe that comets are leftover debris from a collection of gas, ice, rocks, and dust that formed the outer planets about 4.6 billion years ago. Some scientists believe that comets originally

brought to Earth some of the water and the carbon-based molecules that make up living things. Parts of a comet The nucleus of a comet is a ball of ice and rocky dust particles that resembles a dirty snowball. The ice consists mainly of frozen water but may include other frozen substances, such as ammonia, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane. Scientists believe the nucleus of some comets may be fragile because several comets have split apart for no apparent reason. As a comet nears the inner solar system, heat from the sun vaporizes some of the ice on the surface of the nucleus, spewing gas and dust particles into space. This gas and dust forms the comet's coma. Radiation from the sun pushes dust particles away from the coma. These particles form a tail called the dust tail. At the same time, the solar wind -- that is, the flow of high-speed electrically charged particles from the sun-converts some of the comet's gases into ions (charged particles). These ions also stream away from the coma, forming an ion tail. Because comet tails are pushed by solar radiation and the solar wind, they always point away from the sun. Most comets are thought to have a nucleus that measures about 10 miles (16 kilometers) or less across. Some comas can reach diameters of nearly 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers). Some tails extend to distances of 100 million miles (160 million kilometers). The life of a comet Comets that pass near the sun come from two groups of comets near the outer edge of the solar system, according to astronomers. The disk-shaped Kuiper belt contributes comets that orbit the sun in fewer than 200 years. The Kuiper belt lies beyond Pluto's orbit, which extends to about 4.6 billion miles (7.4 billion kilometers) from the sun. The Oort cloud provides comets that take longer to complete their orbits. The outer edge of the Oort cloud may be 1,000 times farther than the orbit of Pluto. Image credit: World Book diagram by Terry Hadler, Bernard Thornto Scientists think that short-period comets come from a band of objects called the Kuiper belt, which lies beyond the orbit of Pluto. The gravitational pull of the outer planets can nudge objects out of the Kuiper belt and into the inner solar system, where they become active comets. Long-period comets come from the Oort cloud, a nearly spherical collection of icy bodies about 1,000 times farther away from the sun than Pluto's orbit. Gravitational interactions with passing stars can cause icy bodies in the Oort cloud to enter the inner solar system and become active comets. Comets lose ice and dust each time they return to the inner solar system, leaving behind trails of dusty debris. When Earth passes through one of these trails, the debris become meteors that burn up in the atmosphere. Eventually, some comets lose all their ices. They break up and dissipate into clouds of dust or turn into fragile, inactive objects similar to asteroids. The long, oval-shaped orbits of comets can cross the almost circular orbits of the planets. As a result, comets sometimes collide with planets and their satellites. Many of the impact craters in the solar

crashing into the planet Jupiter. which was to go into orbit around Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. The space probe Giotto passed near Halley's Comet on March 14. In 2004. Much of the remainder is frozen carbon dioxide. Borrelly's nucleus was also potato-shaped and had a dark black surface. Giotto returned dramatic close-up images of the comet. which is normally concealed by the comet's coma. Image credit: European Space Agency Scientists unexpectedly found the nucleus of Halley's Comet to be extremely dark black. which came within 122 million miles (197 million kilometers) of Earth in 1997. Studying comets Scientists learned much about comets by studying Halley's Comet as it passed near Earth in 1986. However. Stardust was scheduled to return the samples to Earth in 2006. The nucleus was estimated to be about 18 to 25 miles (30 to 40 kilometers) across. which had split into more than two dozen pieces. In 1994. exposing the interior ice to the warming sunlight. astronomers observed a comet named Shoemaker-Levy 9. Scientists believe that other comets are chemically similar to Halley's Comet. These comets release gas only when holes in this crust rotate toward the sun. the Deep Space 1 spacecraft observed a nucleus about half the size of the nucleus of Halley's Comet. They now believe that the surface of the comet. methane. Like Halley's Comet. Comet Borrelly only released gas from small areas where holes in the crust exposed the ice to sunlight. 1986. . About 80 percent of the ice is water ice. During a flyby in 2001.system were caused by collisions with comets. Five spacecraft flew past the comet and gathered information about its appearance and chemical composition. The nucleus contains equal amounts of ice and dust. and frozen carbon monoxide makes up another 15 percent. and ammonia. Hale-Bopp appeared bright to the unaided eye because its unusually large nucleus gave off a great deal of dust and gas. One of the most active comets seen in more than 400 years was Comet Hale-Bopp. the U. Another comet nucleus that has been seen by spacecraft cameras is that of Comet Borrelly. including this one.S. and perhaps most other comets. Also in 2004. is covered with a black crust of dust and rock that covers most of the ice. the European Space Agency launched the Rosetta spacecraft. The spacecraft found a roughly potato-shaped nucleus measuring about 9 miles (15 kilometers) long. This was not an especially close approach for a comet. Several probes flew close enough to study the nucleus. spacecraft Stardust passed near the nucleus of Comet Wild 2 and gathered samples from the comet's coma. Rosetta carried a small probe designed to land on the comet's nucleus.

all known life in the universe. European navigators explored the Southern Hemisphere and observed many constellations in the southernmost third of the sky. The swirling mass of clouds west of Mexico is a large of billions of stars that make up a galaxy called the Milky Way. our home planet. The constellations Andromeda. the constellation Leo was named for a lion. Animals. NASA scientists combined satellite photographs with surface data to create this detailed image of Earth's land masses and oceans. a large-billed bird of Central and South America. Musca was named for the fly. The planet Earth is only a tiny part of the universe. An observer at the equator can view all the constellations during the course of a year.Constellation A constellation (KON stuh LAY shuhn) is a group of stars visible within a particular region of the night sky. the Big Dipper is an asterism that lies in the constellation Ursa Major (Great Bear). Some well-known groups of stars form only part of a constellation. Romans. has oceans of liquid water. Such smaller groups are called asterisms. the constellation Telescopium was named for the telescope. Between the early 1400's and the mid-1700's. Earth is a small planet in the vastness of space. The sun is a star -. For example. Mapmakers and explorers named these star groups for scientific instruments and other things as well as for animals. Most living things . but it is the home of human beings and. They named these groups of stars after animals and mythological characters. For example. Pisces for two fish. and continents that rise above sea level. Astronomers have divided the sky into 88 areas. and people of various other early civilizations observed groups of stars in the northern two-thirds of the sky. Orion. Some constellations can be seen only during certain seasons due to the earth's annual revolution around the sun. For example. The ancient Greeks. Cassiopeia. The part of the sky visible at night at a particular place gradually changes as the earth moves around the sun. It is one of nine planets that travel through space around the sun. and Perseus are named for heroines and heroes in Greek mythology. The word constellation also refers to the region in which a specific group of stars appears. Earth Earth. but an observer at the North or the South Pole can see only a single hemisphere of constellations. observers at different latitudes see different parts of the sky. The Milky Way and as many as 100 billion other galaxies make up the universe. or constellations. and other organisms live almost everywhere on Earth's surface. in fact. plants. and Tucana for the toucan. Also. and Taurus for a bull. They can live on Earth because it is just the right distance from the sun.

has a diameter less than one-fifth that of Earth. Geologists study different physical features of Earth to understand how they were formed and how they may have changed over time. Because Earth does not spin a whole number of times as it goes around the sun. it is about 109 times the radius of Earth. How Earth moves Earth has three motions.000 miles (13. Mercury. such as the deep interior. it would be too hot for living things. cannot be studied directly. Earth ranks fifth in size among the nine planets. the outermost planet. is only about one-third as far from the sun as Earth and circles the sun in only 88 days. This length of time is called a sidereal year. the largest planet. The innermost planet. Much of Earth. geologists can also view and study the entire Earth from space. If Earth were too far from the sun. and (3) it moves through the Milky Way along with the sun and the rest of the solar system. it would be too cold for anything to live. From the sun's center to its surface. It takes one year for Earth to complete one orbit around the sun. Earth takes 365 days 6 hours 9 minutes 9. like all the planets in our solar system. (2) it travels around the sun. If Earth were too close to the sun. This period is called a solar day. The study of Earth is called geology. Pluto. travels around the sun in a path called an orbit. the smallest planet. During a solar day. Today.need the sun's warmth and light for life. it only takes 23 hours 56 minutes 4. the . Pluto. Jupiter. Living things also must have water to live. Earth as a planet The sun is much larger than Earth. Water covers most of Earth's surface. A sidereal day is shorter than a solar day. is about 11 times larger in diameter than Earth.000 kilometers). is 40 times as far from the sun as Earth and takes 248 Earth years to circle the sun. This period is called a sidereal day. It (1) spins like a top around an imaginary line called an axis that runs from the North Pole to the South Pole. Earth is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from the sun.09 seconds for Earth to spin once so that the stars appear to be in the same place in the sky. Some of the streams of gas rising from the solar surface are larger than Earth. Earth has plenty. so the stars appear to rise about 4 minutes earlier each day. Earth. Thus. and scientists who study Earth are geologists. Geologists must often study samples of rock and use indirect methods to learn about the planet. It has a diameter of about 8. This article discusses Earth (Earth as a planet) (Earth's spheres) (Earth's rocks) (Cycles on and in Earth) (Earth's interior) (Earth's crust) (Earth's changing climate) (History of Earth). Earth takes 24 hours to spin completely around on its axis so that the sun is in the same place in the sky. Earth moves a little around its orbit so that it faces the stars a little differently each night.54 seconds to circle the sun.

In January. a day is added to bring the calendar back into line with the seasons. Sunlight is spread thinly over the northern half of Earth.1 million kilometers) from the sun. Earth has moved to the opposite side of the sun." Gravity works the same way on other planets and moons. These years. Every four years. People everywhere on Earth feel "down" is toward the center of Earth and "up" is toward the sky. At the same time. To our bodies. Sunlight falls intensely over the northern half of Earth. Earth has a diameter of about 7. Now the northern half of Earth tilts toward the sun.calendar gets out of step with the seasons by about 6 hours each year. but is tilted by about 23 1/2 degrees compared to the orbital plane. the biggest planet in our solar system. Earth's orbit is not a perfect circle. or 18. Earth's size and shape Most people picture Earth as a ball with the North Pole at the top and the South Pole at the bottom. and stars -. People in Spain and in New Zealand are on exactly opposite sides of Earth from each other. which has summer. By July. the sun and other stars orbit the tightly packed center of the Milky Way. The solar system makes one complete revolution around the center of the galaxy in about 220 million years. and the north experiences summer. the northern half of Earth tilts away from the sun. and in July it is 94. and the north experiences winter.4 million miles (147.are round because of their gravity. large moons. The extra day is added to the end of February and occurs as February 29. This variation has a far smaller effect than the heating and cooling caused by the tilt of Earth's axis.5 million miles (152. which has winter. Earth's axis is not straight up and down. Earth. but remain lumpy instead. At the same time. Just as the moon orbits Earth and planets orbit the sun. Gravity pulls matter in toward the center of objects.000 kilometers) an hour. the sunlight falls intensely on the southern half of Earth. Tiny moons.1 million kilometers) from the sun. The diameter of Jupiter. Image credit: NASA/NSSDC .700 kilometers). have so little gravity that they do not become round. Earth is slightly closer to the sun in early January (winter in the Northern Hemisphere) and farther away in July. Earth is fact.700 miles (107.5 miles (30 kilometers) a second. In January. called leap years. Earth and the solar system are part of a vast disk of stars called the Milky Way Galaxy. have 366 days.900 miles (12. "down" is always the direction gravity is pulling. This tilt and Earth's motion around the sun causes the change of the seasons. Earth's orbit lies on an imaginary flat surface around the sun called the orbital plane. most objects in space bigger than about 200 miles (320 kilometers) in diameter -. such as the two moons of Mars. The solar system is about two-fifths of the way from the center of the Milky Way and revolves around the center at about 155 miles (249 kilometers) per second. Earth travels in its orbit at 66. but both sense their surroundings as "right side up. is more than 11 times as large as the diameter of Earth. The distance around Earth's orbit is 584 million miles (940 million kilometers). other planets. the sunlight falls less intensely on the southern half of Earth.

Earth, however, is not perfectly round. Earth's spin causes it to bulge slightly at its middle, the equator. The diameter of Earth from North Pole to South Pole is 7,899.83 miles (12,713.54 kilometers), but through the equator it is 7,926.41 miles (12,756.32 kilometers). This difference, 26.58 miles (42.78 kilometers), is only 1/298 the diameter of Earth. The difference is too tiny to be easily seen in pictures of Earth from space, so the planet appears round. Earth's bulge also makes the circumference of Earth larger around the equator than around the poles. The circumference around the equator is 24,901.55 miles (40,075.16 kilometers), but around the poles it is only 24,859.82 miles (40,008.00 kilometers). The circumference is actually greatest just south of the equator, so Earth is slightly pear-shaped. Earth also has mountains and valleys, but these features are tiny compared to the total size of Earth, so the planet appears smooth from space. Earth and its moon Earth has one moon. Pluto also has one moon, while Mercury and Venus have none. All the other planets in our solar system have two or more moons. Earth's moon has a diameter of 2,159 miles (3,474 kilometers) -- about one-fourth of Earth's diameter. View of Earth and the moon from space. Image credit: NASA

The sun's gravity acts on Earth and the moon as if they were a single body with its center about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) below Earth's surface. This spot is the Earth-moon barycenter. It is the point of balance between the heavy Earth and the lighter moon. The path of the barycenter around the sun is a smooth curve. Earth and the moon circle the barycenter as they orbit the sun. The motion of Earth and moon around the barycenter makes them "wobble" in their path around the sun. Earth's spheres Earth is composed of several layers, or spheres, somewhat like the layers of an onion. The solid Earth consists of a thin outer layer, the crust, with a thick rocky layer, the mantle, beneath it. The crust and the upper portion of the mantle are called the lithosphere. At the center of Earth is the core. The outer part of the core is liquid, while the inner part is solid. Much of Earth is covered by a layer of water or ice called the hydrosphere. Earth is surrounded by a thin layer of air, the atmosphere. The portion of the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and solid land where life exists is called the biosphere. The atmosphere Air surrounds Earth and becomes progressively thinner farther from the surface. Most people find it difficult to breathe more than 2 miles (3 kilometers) above sea level. About 100 miles (160 kilometers) above the surface, the air is so thin that satellites can travel without much resistance. Detectable traces of atmosphere, however, can be found as high as 370 miles (600 kilometers) above Earth's surface. The atmosphere has no definite outer edge but fades gradually into space. Nitrogen makes up 78 percent of the atmosphere, while oxygen makes up 21 percent. The remaining 1

percent consists of argon and small amounts of other gases. The atmosphere also contains water vapor, carbon dioxide, water droplets, dust particles, and small amounts of many other chemicals released by volcanoes, fires, living things, and human activities. The lowest layer of the atmosphere is called the troposphere. This layer is in constant motion. The sun heats Earth's surface and the air above it, causing warm air to rise. As the warm air rises, air pressure decreases and the air expands and cools. The cool air is denser than the surrounding air, so it sinks and the cycle starts again. This constant cycle of the air causes the weather. High above the troposphere, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) above Earth's surface, is a layer of still air called the stratosphere. The stratosphere contains a layer where ultraviolet light from the sun strikes oxygen molecules to create a gas called ozone. Ozone blocks most of the harmful ultraviolet rays from reaching Earth's surface. Some ultraviolet rays get through, however. They are responsible for sunburn and can cause skin cancer in people. Tiny amounts of human-made chemicals have caused some of the natural ozone to break down. Many people are concerned that the ozone layer may become too thin, allowing ultraviolet rays to reach the surface and harm people and other living things. Water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases in the atmosphere trap heat from the sun, warming Earth. The heat-trapping quality of these gases causes the greenhouse effect. Without the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere, Earth would probably be too cold for life to exist. Ocean waters cover most of Earth's surface. This satellite view shows the Indian Ocean, partly bordered by Africa, Asia, and Australia, and below it the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. The hydrosphere

Ocean waters cover most of Earth's surface. This satellite view shows the Indian Ocean, partly bordered by Africa, Asia, and Australia, and below it the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica.

Earth is the only planet in the solar system with abundant liquid water on its surface. Water has chemical and physical properties not matched by any other substance, and it is essential for life on Earth. Water has a great ability to absorb heat. The oceans store much of the heat Earth gets from the sun. The electrical charges on water molecules give water a great ability to attract atoms from other substances. This quality allows water to dissolve many things. Water's ability to dissolve materials makes it a powerful agent in breaking down rocks. Liquid water on Earth affects not just the surface but the interior as well. Water in rocks lowers the melting temperature of rock. Water dramatically weakens rocks and makes them easier to melt beneath Earth's surface.

About 71 percent of Earth's surface is covered by water, most of it in the oceans. Ocean water is too salty to drink. Only about 3 percent of Earth's water is fresh water, suitable for drinking. Much of Earth's fresh water is not readily available to people because it is frozen in the polar ice caps or beneath Earth's surface. Polar regions and high mountains stay cold enough for water to remain permanently frozen. The region of permanent ice on Earth is sometimes called the cryosphere. The lithosphere The crust and upper mantle of Earth from the surface to about 60 miles (100 kilometers) down make up the lithosphere. The thin crust is made up of natural chemicals called minerals composed of different combinations of elements. Oxygen is the most abundant chemical element in rocks in Earth's crust, making up about 47 percent of the weight of all rock. The second most abundant element is silicon, 27 percent, followed by aluminum (8 percent), iron (5 percent), calcium (4 percent), and sodium, potassium, and magnesium (about 2 percent each). These eight elements make up 99 percent of the weight of rocks on Earth's surface. Two elements, silicon and oxygen, make up almost three-fourths of the crust. This combination of elements is so important that geologists have a special term for it: silica. Minerals that contain silica are called silicate minerals. The most abundant mineral on Earth's surface is quartz, made up of pure silica. Another plentiful group of silicates are the feldspars, which consist of silica, aluminum, calcium, sodium, and potassium. Other common silicate minerals on Earth's surface are pyroxene (PY rahk seen) and amphibole (AM fuh bohl), which consist of combinations of silica, iron, and magnesium. Another important group of minerals are the carbonates, which contain carbon and oxygen along with small amounts of other elements. The most important carbonate mineral is calcite, made up of calcium, carbon, and oxygen. Limestone, a common rock used for building, is mostly calcite. Another important carbonate is dolomite, composed of carbon, oxygen, calcium, and magnesium. Earth has two kinds of crust. The dry land of the continents is made up mostly of granite and other light silicate minerals, while the ocean floors are composed mostly of a dark, dense volcanic rock called basalt. Continental crust averages about 25 miles (40 kilometers) thick, but it is thicker in some areas and thinner in others. Most oceanic crust is only about 5 miles (8 kilometers) thick. Water fills in the low areas over the thin basalt crust to form the world's oceans. There is more than enough water on Earth to completely fill the oceanic basins, and some of it spreads onto the edges of the continents. This portion of the continents surrounded by a band of shallow ocean is called the continental shelf. The biosphere Earth is the only planet in the universe known to have life. The region containing life extends from the bottom of the deepest ocean to a few miles or kilometers into the atmosphere. There are several million known kinds, called species, of living things, and scientists believe that there are far many more species not yet discovered. Life affects Earth in many ways. Life has actually made the atmosphere around us. Plants take in water and carbon dioxide, both of which contain oxygen. They use the carbon in carbon dioxide and the hydrogen in water to make chemicals of many kinds and give off oxygen as a waste product. Animals eat plants to get energy and return water and carbon dioxide back into the environment. Living things affect the surface of Earth in other ways as well. Plants create chemicals that speed the breakdown of rock. Grasslands and forests slow the erosion of soil. Earth's rocks

Sedimentary rocks Rocks on Earth's surface are under constant attack by chemicals and mechanical forces. Erosion is usually a relatively slow process. Most of Earth's interior is solid. called biogenic. Some chemical sedimentary rocks form when water evaporates. Volcanic rocks that are iron-rich and silica-poor are basalt. Coal is the remains of woody plants that have been transformed into rock by heat and pressure over time. but over millions of years. which lowers their melting point. and plutonic rocks of the same composition are granite. so expanding ice helps pry apart mineral grains in rocks. The most abundant sedimentary rocks. Plutonic rocks cool slowly. living things produce chemicals that help dissolve rocks. where it erupts from volcanoes as lava. Sedimentary rocks form when grains of rock or dissolved chemicals are deposited in layers by wind. Running water erodes rocks. Igneous rocks form from molten material called magma. their minerals form large crystals. Vast quantities of magma. Rock salt and a mineral called gypsum form this way. Sandstone is a sedimentary rock made up of sand cemented together. Igneous rocks that are rich in silica tend to be poor in iron and magnesium. Most limestone is . which are sometimes made up of a single mineral. the layers harden into solid rock. They cool slowly within the crust and may only be exposed long afterward by erosion. Common chemical sedimentary rocks include some types of limestone and dolomite. Once rocks break apart. Over time. Granite lies under most of the continents. while basalt lies under most of the ocean floors. These rocks are called chemical sedimentary rocks. Some of these rocks. Such igneous rocks are called plutonic or intrusive. consist of tiny particles. are formed by the action of living things. Silica-rich volcanic rocks are called rhyolite (RY uh lyt). water. erosion can uncover even rocks many miles or kilometers below the surface. Metamorphic rocks develop deep in Earth's crust when heat or pressure transform other types of rock. the temperature is about 1800 degrees F (1000 degrees C). Wind and glaciers also contribute to erosion. called shale. Rocks containing larger pebbles are called conglomerate. Igneous rocks formed this way are called volcanic or extrusive. Igneous rocks form when molten rock cools and solidifies.The solid part of Earth consists of rocks. Where conditions are right. At the base of Earth's crust. never reach the surface. Rocks that are made up of small pieces of other rocks are called clastic rocks. split into thin sheets when broken. conditions are right for rocks to melt. called mudrocks. the loose material is often carried away by erosion. however. small pockets of magma form beneath and within the crust. but it is extremely hot. Plutonic rocks tend to be much coarser than volcanic rocks. Water is effective at dissolving minerals. During this slow cooling. In addition. not molten. The particles in these rocks are cemented together when minerals dissolved in the water crystallize between the grains. leaving dissolved materials behind. Plutonic rocks of the same makeup are called gabbro. Materials derived from weathering and erosion of rocks are eventually deposited to form sedimentary rocks. Rocks can melt more easily near the crust if they contain water. Geologists classify rocks according to their origin. In some portions of the crust. When water freezes. The processes that break down rocks are called weathering. or glaciers. and the opposite is also true. but more often consist of mixtures of minerals. Some of this magma reaches the surface. Other sedimentary rocks form when dissolved materials undergo chemical reactions and settle out as tiny solid particles. it expands. Some sedimentary rocks.

air over Asia is heated by the sun. and draws moist air from the Indian Ocean. Eventually. salty. returning to the surface and flowing back to the equator. the water rises along the margins of the continents and merges with the surface water flow. The cycles affect everything on the planet. Cycles on and in Earth Earth can be thought of as a huge system of interacting cycles. matter and energy return to their original condition and the cycle begins again. In all the oceans. then flow back to the equator on the other side. pushing the moist air away and creating dry weather. The hydrologic cycle Water from the oceans evaporates and is carried by the atmosphere. the shells remain and solidify into limestone. it sinks again. nourishes plants.000 pounds per square inch (41. warming polar waters. Water in the polar regions is very cold. As rocks are heated and subjected to pressure.formed by microscopic marine organisms that secrete protective shells of calcium carbonate. Ocean currents are driven by the winds and follow the same general pattern.6 kilometers) beneath the surface. combined with the rotation of Earth. and eventually into marble under pressure. the ocean currents form great loops called gyres. and (5) the rock cycle. from the weather to the shape of the landscape. These patterns are often called monsoons. The global heat conveyor is an enormous cycle of ocean water that distributes the oceans' heat around Earth. the water returns to the sea to start the cycle over again. In summer. This three-dimensional movement of water mixes heat throughout the oceans. Earth's crust grows hotter by about 70 degrees F per mile (25 degrees C per kilometer) of depth. There are many cycles on and within Earth. and dense. where they are available for marine plants and animals. In each cycle. (2) ocean currents. limestone. In winter. This motion. When the animals die. Eventually. The gyres flow clockwise north of the equator and counterclockwise south of it. the air over Asia cools. (4) the hydrologic cycle. matter and energy move from place to place and may change form. but others change so much that only the chemical makeup provides evidence of what they originally were. and wears down the landscape. (3) the global heat conveyor. so ocean currents flow west near the equator. rises. It sinks and flows along the sea floor toward the equator. Metamorphic rocks When rocks are buried deeply. Many metamorphic rocks contain recognizable features that tell of their origin. moves heat and moisture around the planet creating winds and weather patterns. the pressure is about 6. Eventually. minerals react and the rocks become metamorphic. turn east.360 kilopascals). Atmospheric circulation Air warmed by the sun near the equator rises and flows toward Earth's poles. Shale is transformed to slate. causing daily rains over most of southern Asia. . they become hot. In some areas. At a depth of 1 mile (1. eventually falling as rain or snow. sinks. the winds change directions with the seasons. and flows out. Water that falls on the land helps break rocks down chemically. The continents block the flow of water around the globe. Pressure also increases with depth. It also brings nutrients up from the deep ocean to the surface. A similar pattern occurs in the Pacific Ocean near Mexico and brings moist air and afternoon thunderstorms to the southwestern United States in the summer. then turn toward the poles when they strike a continent. When it reaches the polar regions. A few of the most important are (1) atmospheric circulation.

Geologists can use chondrites to estimate the original chemical composition of the entire Earth. the outer core. The deepest wells drilled reach less than 8 miles (13 kilometers) below the surface.The rock cycle Earth has many more kinds of rocks compared to other planets because there are so many processes acting to form and break down rocks. The cycle may begin with a flow of lava from a volcano cooling to form new igneous rocks on Earth's surface. Sedimentary rocks can be broken down by weathering and then reassembled into a new generation of sedimentary rocks. metamorphic. Geologists sometimes speak of the rock cycle to explain how different rock types are related. pressures are so great that minerals can be compressed into dense forms not found on the surface. Certain types of meteorites. The speed and motion of vibrations traveling through Earth depends on the composition and density of the material they travel through. using instruments called seismographs. The mantle . Geologists can determine many properties of Earth's interior by analyzing such vibrations. creating the raw material for the next generation of igneous rocks. Scientists learn about the inside of Earth by studying how waves from earthquakes travel through the planet. Unlike chondrites. Metamorphic rocks can also be weathered to form the raw material for a new generation of sedimentary rocks. Rocks rarely go through the entire rock cycle. For example. They may even melt. or sedimentary. it breaks down and the resulting materials may be carried away to be deposited as sedimentary rocks. can be transformed into any other type. igneous rocks can be subjected to heat and pressure and transformed directly to metamorphic rocks. Earth is made up of layers that contain different amounts of various chemical elements. igneous. Artisan-Chicago Geologists cannot study the interior of Earth directly. Geologists know that the whole Earth differs in composition from its thin outer crust. Instead. are remains of the early solar system that persisted unchanged in space until they fell to Earth. Geologists learn about Earth's interior by studying vibrations generated by earthquakes. and the inner core. some steps may be skipped or repeated. Earth's interior Beneath Earth's solid crust are the mantle. One way geologists determine the overall composition of Earth is from chemical analysis of meteorites. called chondrites. As the rock is exposed to water. Deep in Earth. Image credit: World Book illustration by Raymond Perlman and Steven Brayfield. Any rock type. These rocks may eventually be so deeply buried that they change in form to become metamorphic rocks.

is made of a similar material as the outer core. Earth gets hotter toward the center. Geologists believe the innermost part of the core. Geologists believe the temperature of Earth's outer core is about 6700 to 7800 degrees F (3700 to 4300 degrees C). When two plates push together. up to 36. The trenches are the deepest places in the oceans.800 miles (2. but it is solid. But. New magma from the mantle rises to fill the cracks between the plates. Earth's plates are spreading apart. This plate is also .600 degrees F (7000 degrees C) -. the temperature is about 1800 degrees F (1000 degrees C).Beneath the crust. it breaks the crust into a number of large slabs called tectonic plates. The sinking plate eventually melts into magma in Earth's interior. The boundary where the two plates meet is marked by a deep trench on the ocean floor.400 miles (2. The core At the center of Earth is the core. It hardens to form rocks and creates oceanic crust made of basalt. forming plutonic rocks. only plates made of dense oceanic crust are subducted. Many volcanoes occur where plates pull apart and magma wells up from within the mantle to fill the gap. The upper plate that remains on the surface may be continental crust or oceanic crust. one of the plates sinks back into Earth's mantle. and volcanoes and earthquakes to occur.hotter than the surface of the sun.250 kilometers) of the core are liquid. and the formation of mountain ranges. The core is about 4. Just as a thick board would rise above the water higher than a thin one. Much of the magma created in subduction zones does not reach the surface and cools within the crust. Places where plates spread apart are called spreading centers. Subduction Earth's crust cannot spread apart everywhere. Earth's crust The hot rock deep in Earth's mantle flows upward slowly. while cooler rock near the surface sinks because hot materials are lighter than cool materials. much as slabs of ice break apart on a pond.600 kilometers) in diameter. the thick continental crust rises higher than the thin oceanic crust.000 meters) deep. As Earth's mantle flows. The slow motion of rock in the mantle moves the continents around and causes earthquakes.000 feet (11. because it is under great pressures. Earth's crust floats on the mantle much as a board floats in water. The slow flow of Earth's mantle drags the crust along. Currents flowing in the core are thought to generate Earth's magnetic field.400 miles (7. causing the continents to move. The heat from the magma also helps create metamorphic rocks. The core is made mostly of iron and nickel and possibly smaller amounts of lighter elements. The temperature increases about 3 degrees F per mile (1 degrees C per kilometer) below the crust. the rock in the center of Earth remains solid. mountains to form. This constant motion of Earth's crust is called plate tectonics. slightly larger than half the diameter of Earth and about the size of Mars. The rising and sinking of materials due to differences in temperature is called convection. usually under the oceans. including sulfur and oxygen. volcanoes. Because continental crust is too thick and light to sink into Earth's interior. is a thick layer called the mantle. The mantle is not perfectly stiff but can flow slowly.900 kilometers).100 kilometers) in diameter.600 miles (2. At the bottom of the continental crust. about 1. The inner core may be as hot as 12. The material from the mantle is made of iron and magnesium-rich silicate rocks. The inner core is about four-fifths as big as Earth's moon. an equal amount of crust must be removed. The outermost 1. a process called subduction. In some places. Somewhere. extending down about 1.

These small added pieces of crust are called terranes. Geologists have determined that. after the Canadian geologist John Tuzo Wilson. where a portion of crust called the Pacific Plate is carrying a small piece of California northwest past the rest of North America. Most of the oceanic crust older than that has been subducted into the mantle long ago. The series of events that happen during formation of a mountain range is called orogeny. Material from Earth's mantle filled the gaps. Regions with many volcanoes. The flow . What is now North America lay at the center of Rodinia. creating new oceanic crust. The continents have probably been in motion for at least the past 2 billion years or more. such as Peru. folding and crumpling of the rocks. neither plate will sink. volcanic activity. it drags along a continent or a smaller land mass. Mountain building Occasionally. new ocean basins formed between them. the continents were assembled into a large supercontinent called Rodinia.changed by subduction. Geologists. The San Andreas Fault in California is a transform fault. they begin to melt and form magma. The process of continents breaking apart and rejoining is called the Wilson cycle. who first described it. Most of the land in the United States west of Salt Lake City has been added to North America by terrane collisions in the last 500 million years. Continental crust is too thick and light to sink. About onethird of Earth's surface is covered by continental crust. Terrane collisions Smaller pieces of continental crust that collide with another plate are often added to the edge of the larger plate. Although the crust of the continents is thick. Some of the magma reaches the surface to form volcanoes. As the continents moved apart. so the pieces cannot move far before colliding. and formation of plutonic and metamorphic rocks that occur when plates collide. Earthquakes Earthquakes occur when rocks on opposite sides of a break in the crust. it collides with the opposing plate. The boundaries between two plates sliding past each other are called transform faults. Long after mountains have vanished from erosion. and supercontinents broke quickly into smaller pieces. about 800 million years ago. collisions between continents have created a huge supercontinent. but there are faults within plates as well. it breaks more easily than oceanic crust. only have evidence from rocks to understand and reconstruct the motion over the past 800 million years. Instead. As the two plates move together. The Himalaya were formed in such a way from the collision of two plates of continental crust. Japan. This type of collision often forms a vast mountain chain in the middle of a continent. as a plate sinks into Earth's mantle. slide past each other. The crust becomes thicker and higher. forces within the plates cause rocks to fracture and slip even though the rocks are not at a plate boundary. Orogeny includes the elevation of mountains. geologists can still see the changes orogeny produces in the rocks. the edge of the upper plate is compressed. lie near areas where subduction is happening. an old ocean basin is destroyed. The shaping of the continents Several times in Earth's history. The boundaries between plates are faults. and the northwestern United States. When the rocks of the sinking plate reach a depth of about 60 miles (100 kilometers). Occasionally. If the opposing plate is also a continent. As two continents collide. however. creating a mountain range. called a fault.

cover most of Canada. Throughout the history of Earth. The theory that the entire Earth froze is sometimes called the snowball Earth. By about 2 million years ago. and the Indian subcontinent. worldwide ocean. surrounded Pangaea.of material in Earth's mantle caused Rodinia to break apart into many pieces. and Africa caused the uplift of the Appalachian Mountains in North America. Geologists estimate that Earth experienced up to four such periods of alternate freezing and thawing. and the oceans were formed. and the simplest kinds of life appeared. Earth's changing climate The ice ages Precambrian time included almost all of Earth's first 4 billion years. Gondwanaland then broke apart. occurred during the Pleistocene Ice Age. the continents reassembled to form another supercontinent called Pangaea. Earth's climate began to cool. Earth experienced several extreme climate changes called ice ages or glacial epochs. Glaciers began forming in Antarctica about 35 million years ago. but the climate there was warm enough for trees to grow until about 5 million years ago.000 years ago and reached its farthest extent about . As the continental plates split and drifted apart. At least four ice advances were big enough to extend over much of Europe. the atmosphere. during a time called the Precambrian. It split into two large land masses called Gondwanaland and Laurasia. periods when ice sheets covered vast areas. which collided again between 500 million and 250 million years ago. and reach deep into the United States. Antarctica. however. About 200 million years ago. By 250 million years ago. The movement of the continents to their present positions took place over millions of years. at the beginning of a time called the Pleistocene Epoch. ice had accumulated on other continents as well. Collisions between part of present-day Siberia and Europe created the Ural Mountains. Europe. The crust. Most of the time. Brief ice ages occurred about 450 million years ago and again about 250 million years ago. Collision between what is now North America. Australia. Geologists analyzing sediment deposits from the North Atlantic Ocean determined that there were at least 20 advances and retreats of ice sheets in the past 2 million years. forming the continents of Africa. In the last few million years. The advances alternated with periods when the climate was warmer and the ice melted. Between 800 million and 600 million years ago. new oceanic crust formed between them. The most recent advance of ice began about 70. Laurasia eventually split apart into Eurasia and North America. Numerous separate ice advances. and South America. the climate has changed many times. The climate grew so cold that some scientists believe Earth nearly or completely froze several times. Pangaea began to break apart. Earth has been largely ice free. A single. called Panthalassa.

Why ice ages occur Scientists do not fully understand why Earth has ice ages. Rocks have been forming. Missouri. wearing away. Many scientists also believe that variations in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are responsible for long-term changes in the climate. Strata contain clues that tell geologists about Earth's past. Space exploration has expanded our understanding of Earth's origin. These changes alter the amount of energy received from the sun. Earth's climate today would be much warmer if the carbon dioxide trapped in limestone were released into the atmosphere. and re-forming ever since Earth took shape. These clues include the composition of the sediment. causing the ice to melt rapidly. living organisms absorb the chemicals and use them to make protective carbonate shells. calcium and magnesium erode from the rocks. some limestone on the ocean floor can be carried down into Earth's mantle by subduction. Earth's climate may cool enough to cause an ice age. The vast glaciers and sheets of ice scoured out the basins of the Great Lakes and blocked rivers. History of Earth The history of Earth is recorded in the rocks of Earth's crust. completely changing the courses of the Mississippi. such as limestone and dolomite. Since the mid-1990's. Sediment accumulates in layers known as strata. The organisms eventually die and sink to the bottom to form limestone deposits. removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Limestone and dolomite deposits exposed to weathering and erosion return carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. . and the kinds of fossils that may occur in the rock. Carbon dioxide. Scientists theorize that volcanoes continued to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the Precambrian ice ages.000 years ago. These discoveries have helped scientists develop theories about the formation of Earth. In addition. scientists have found other stars that have planets surrounding them. Beneath the crust. the limestone breaks down into magma under heat and pressure. Most believe that tiny changes in Earth's orbit and axis due to the gravitational pull of other planets play a part. Most scientists believe that Earth is currently in an interglacial period. These elements are carried to the sea by water. and another ice advance will follow." traps heat from the sun and warms Earth's atmosphere. and Ohio rivers. There. Eventually. This process. The carbon dioxide in the limestone can then return to the atmosphere during volcanic eruptions.18. The most recent ice advance ended about 11. the way the strata are deposited. Most of Earth's carbon dioxide is locked in carbonate rocks. The products of weathering and erosion are called sediment. When mountains rich in silicate minerals wear down through weathering and erosion. With less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to trap heat from the sun.500 years ago. the carbon dioxide warmed Earth through the greenhouse effect. called the carbonatesilicate cycle. a "greenhouse gas. exposing parts of the present ocean floor. The Hubble Space Telescope has observed what appear to be stars in the process of forming planets. So much water was trapped in the form of ice that sea level around Earth dropped as much as 390 feet (120 meters).

in them. and oxygen. which in turn collided to build up the planets of the solar system in a process called accretion. They can determine the age of a rock by comparing the amount of uranium to the amount of lead. and Cenozoic eras. the lengths of eras. In 2001. the unaltered remains from the formation of the solar system. the Paleozoic. Eras are divided into periods. Earth's early development Scientists theorize that Earth began as a waterless mass of rock surrounded by a cloud of gas. the eons are Hadean. which together lasted nearly 4 billion years. when life became abundant. The first three eons. On such a chart. Some of these chemicals formed water. from the oldest to the youngest. Much of the cloud collapsed to the center to form a star. Archean. The sun itself may have formed from a portion of the cloud that was thicker than the rest. They have determined that some chondrite meteorites. They are. The known history of Earth is divided into four long stretches of time called eons. Zircon. As a result. The heat of the interior caused other chemicals inside Earth to rise to the surface. Periods are mostly separated by important changes in the types of fossils found in the rocks. is a hard. Proterozoic. and periods are divided into epochs. Particles in the ring collided to make larger objects. Earth's earliest history is at the bottom. sank. They concluded that Earth's crust and oceans may have formed within about 200 million years after the planet had taken shape. silicon. The Phanerozoic Eon. and epochs are not equal. . Radioactive elements decay (change into other elements) at a known rate.Age of Earth Scientists think that Earth probably formed at about the same time as the rest of the solar system. and others became the gases of the atmosphere. Scientists believe that Earth and other planets are probably that old. The light silicate rocks rose to Earth's surface and formed the earliest crust. uranium gives off radiation and decays into lead. This arrangement resembles the way rock strata are formed. Through chemical analysis of the zircon. long lasting mineral that resists erosion and weathering. Mesozoic. Starting with the earliest. but a great ring of material remained orbiting around the star. the scientists determined that liquid water probably existed on Earth's surface when the crystal were formed. an international team of scientists announced the discovery of crystals of the mineral zircon that they determined to be 4. with the recent over the oldest. are grouped into a unit called the Precambrian. Scientists know the time it takes for uranium to change to lead. such as iron. A chart showing an outline of Earth's history is called a geological time scale. and its recent history at the top.4 billion years old. The heavy materials. the sun. Astronomers believe that the sun was about 30 percent fainter when Earth first formed than it is today. For example. and dust and gas were drawn in toward the center. Scientists believe that many small planets formed and then collided to make larger planets. and Phanerozoic. are up to 4. Radioactive materials in the rock and increasing pressure in Earth's interior produced enough heat to melt the interior of Earth. Formation of Earth Most scientists believe that the solar system began as a thin cloud of gas and dust in space. They can determine the ages of rocks by measuring the amounts of natural radioactive materials. The cloud's own gravity caused it to start contracting. is divided into three eras. made up of the elements zirconium.6 billion years old. such as uranium. These divisions and subdivisions are named for places where rocks of each period were studied. periods.

Mars. 3. the water slowly collected in low places of the crust and formed oceans. Many scientists believe that life appeared on Earth almost as soon as conditions allowed. to trap more heat from the sun. but the craters produced by the impacts have all been destroyed by erosion and plate tectonics. about 2 billion years ago. Scientists believe that the atmosphere must have been thicker than it is today. Over millions of years. Fossil remains of microscopic living things about 3. Some scientists believe Earth's early atmosphere contained hydrogen. Geologists have determined that.5 billion years ago. but the atmosphere may have had about 1 percent oxygen. much like the present atmosphere of Jupiter. large deposits of red sandstone formed. There is evidence that plate tectonics has been active for at least 2 billion years. as does the atmosphere of Venus. Fossils help scientists learn which kinds of plants and animals lived at different times in Earth's history. Geologists believe that large masses of continental crust had formed by 3. Many of these creatures differed from any living things today. or rust. A fossil may be an animal's body. Scientists who study prehistoric life are called paleontologists.5 billion years old have also been found at sites in Australia and Canada. The collisions of the newly formed planets and debris material were explosive. provide evidence that Earth was warm enough for liquid water to exist on the surface. The amount of oxygen increased in the atmosphere of the early Earth as oxygen-producing organisms developed and became more plentiful. and ammonia. however. It may simply be an impression of a plant or an animal made in a rock when the rock was soft sediment. The earliest fossils of larger creatures with many cells are found in Precambrian rocks that are about 600 million years old.The oldest rocks on Earth. Scientists agree that Earth's earliest atmosphere probably had little oxygen. The red color results from iron reacting with oxygen to form iron oxide. Life on Earth Many rocks contain fossils that reveal the history of life on Earth. There is evidence for chemicals created by living things in rocks from the Archean age. The air was not breathable at that time. methane. most of the remaining debris in the solar system was swept up by the newly formed planets. After the main period of planet formation. The impacts created the cratered surfaces of the moon. single-celled creatures. The sandstone deposits are evidence that Earth's atmosphere contained some oxygen. a change in Earth's atmosphere occurred. Venus. For most of Earth's history.8 billion years old. . helium. They know this because certain kinds of iron ores created in oxygen-poor environments stopped forming at that time. Others believe it may have contained a large amount of carbon dioxide. The oxygen in the atmosphere today comes mainly from plants and microorganisms such as algae. life consisted mainly of microscopic. and Mercury. a tooth. These organisms use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. Earth was also struck. Instead. or a piece of bone.

Toward the end of the Paleozoic Era. some fossil reptiles begin to show some characteristics of mammals. The Mesozoic Era . Over the course of hundreds of millions of years. The Carboniferous Period is named for these enormous deposits of coal. and they lay eggs protected by a shell. The carbon-rich remains of some of these forests are preserved as coal deposits in the United States. such as corals. animals capable of living on land or in the water. Fossils become abundant in Cambrian rocks that are about 544 million to 505 million years old. The earliest abundant fossils consist of only a few kinds of organisms. The Cambrian Explosion actually occurred over tens of millions of years. the number of species increases gradually in the fossil record. happened about 250 million years ago. Fish. Canada. Several times in Earth's history. The cause of this event is a mystery. and trilobites (flat-shelled sea animals). and other parts of the world. This apparently sudden expansion in the number of life forms in the fossil record is called the Cambrian Explosion. about 440 million years ago. Almost 90 percent of the species on Earth during the Permian became extinct in a relatively short time. the United Kingdom.The Paleozoic Era The Paleozoic Era saw the development of many kinds of animals and plants in the seas and on land. mollusks (clams and snails). large forests and swamps covered the land. first appear as fossils in Devonian rocks about 380 million years old. contain fossils of the first large land plants. about 440 million years old. Fossil remains preserved in rocks show that by 300 million years ago. These features enable reptiles to live their whole lives out of water. The earliest land plants appeared in the Silurian Period. but it appears sudden in the fossil record. Most fossil organisms found in Paleozoic rocks are invertebrates (animals without a backbone). Silurian rocks. there have been great extinctions. The greatest of these events. though many scientists suspect that huge volcanic eruptions in what is now Siberia may have disturbed the climate. periods when many of Earth's living things die out. The earliest fossil remains of reptiles are found in rocks of the Carboniferous Period. the earliest vertebrates (animals with a backbone). called the Permian extinction. are first found in Ordovician rocks about 450 million years old. Amphibians. and it marks the beginning of the Paleozoic Era. reptiles have scaly skins that keep them from drying out. causing many organisms to die out. Unlike amphibians. in rocks from the Permian Period.

Gymnosperms have naked seeds. killing off plants and the animals that fed on them. They include conifers.The Mesozoic Era was the Age of Dinosaurs. such as this Stegosaurus. The dinosaurs died out in another great extinction about 65 million years ago. when glaciers swept slowly across large areas before melting. They became the dominant plant group during the Cretaceous Period and continue to be so today. The Cenozoic Era The Cenozoic Era included the Pleistocene Ice Age. Mammals survived the events that killed off the dinosaurs and expanded to become the dominant land animals of today. Following the Permian extinction. Angiosperms have covered seeds and are flowering plants. Many scientists believe a large. These gymnosperms evolved in the later part of the Paleozoic Era and were dominant into the early Cretaceous Period. and most are cone-bearing. Plant-eating dinosaurs. Debris from the collision has been found all over the world. The moving ice created a variety of landscapes in northern lands. and deposits created by large sea waves caused by the impact have been found in several places around the Gulf of Mexico. early trees that thrived before modern flowering trees appeared. buried crater in the Yucatan region of Mexico. The impact would have thrown so much dust into the atmosphere that the surface would have been dark and cold for months. fed on cycads and conifers. the fossil record shows that reptiles became the dominant animals on land. gymnosperms and angiosperms. and cycads. but mammals and birds also appear in the fossil record in rocks from 200 million to 140 million years old. called Chicxulub (CHEEK shoo loob). is the place the asteroid struck. The Mesozoic is often called the Age of the Dinosaurs. The evolutionary history of today's mammals is recorded in the fossil record of . ginkgoes. The most spectacular of these reptiles were the dinosaurs. Fossil plants of the Mesozoic Era represent two main groups. Most scientists believe that the extinction was caused by the impact of a small asteroid with Earth. The wide variety of plants and animals that we know today came into existence during the Cenozoic Era.

How an earthquake begins Most earthquakes occur along a fault -. Faults occur in weak areas of Earth's How to cite this article: To cite this article. many deaths and injuries result from falling objects and the collapse of buildings. At least 40 moderate earthquakes cause damage somewhere in the world each year.D. University of Wisconsin. During minor earthquakes. rhinoceros. These animals died out at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. Ph. World Book recommends the following format: Dutch. Earthquake is a shaking of the ground caused by the sudden breaking and shifting of large sections of Earth's rocky outer shell. Rock movements during an earthquake can make rivers change their course. Instead. dogs and cats had appeared.000 times as great as that of the first atomic bomb.the Cenozoic Era. Earthquakes can trigger landslides that cause great damage and loss of life. the vibration may be no greater than the vibration caused by a passing truck. 2004. On average. bridges. During the Eocene Epoch. By the Oligocene Epoch. Fossils of the first humanlike creatures appeared near the beginning of the Pleistocene Epoch. This article discusses Earthquake (How an earthquake begins) (How an earthquake spreads) (Damage by earthquakes) (Where and why earthquakes occur) (Studying earthquakes). a powerful earthquake occurs less than once every two years. Earthquakes almost never kill people directly. Spills of hazardous chemicals are also a concern during an earthquake.. Steven I.000 minor earthquakes occur each day without causing any damage. destructive waves called tsunamis (tsoo NAH meez)that flood coasts for many miles. Large earthquakes beneath the ocean can create a series of huge. but some. Stresses . about 2 million years ago. "Earth. Powerful earthquakes can shake firm ground violently for great distances. many kinds of mammals had grown to gigantic size. like the San Andreas Fault in California.a fracture in Earth's rocky outer shell where sections of rock repeatedly slide past each other. Humanity's years on Earth are only a brief moment among the billions of years during which Earth has developed. World Book. Of those. The force of an earthquake depends on how much rock breaks and how far it shifts. By the Pliocene Epoch. The first true human beings appeared later.000 years ago. Contributor: Steven I. Fire resulting from broken gas or power lines is another major danger during a quake. ancestors of the horse. along with three-toed horses about as large as sheep. Dutch. Green Bay. perhaps less than 200. Elephantlike mammoths and mastodons and giant ground sloths roamed the prairies and forests. Professor of Earth Science. http://www. The mammals grew larger and developed in greater variety as prairies spread over the land during the Miocene Epoch.100 are strong enough to be felt.worldbookonline. and other structures. and their results can be terrifying. and camel roamed Europe and North America." World Book Online Reference Center. A severe earthquake may release energy 10. Scientists estimate that more than 8. are visible on the surface. Department of Natural and Applied Sciences. Inc. Earthquakes are among the most powerful events on earth. only about 1. Most faults lie beneath the surface of Earth.

As the waves travel away from the focus. As the waves pass through Earth. causing the shaking of an earthquake. slow waves. the break travels like a spreading crack along the fault.4 kilometers) per second. How an earthquake spreads When an earthquake occurs. Compressional waves push and pull the rock. the slowest of the seismic waves. the ground generally shakes less farther away from the focus. move up and over the other side. It may average about 2 miles (3.8 kilometers) per second. Typical Love waves travel at about 23/4 miles (4. The point on the surface of Earth directly above the focus is known as the epicenter of the quake. or bend. H. compressional waves are also called primary (P) waves. Seismic waves move out from the focus of an earthquake in all directions. At a depth of 620 miles (1. The two types of waves were named for two British physicists. of the quake. When the stress on the rock becomes great enough.8 kilometers) per second. There are two kinds of body waves: (1) compressional waves and (2) shear waves. At that rate. Shear waves make rocks move from side to side. The strongest shaking is usually felt near the epicenter. and shear waves travel at 2.2 miles (6. also known as the hypocenter. a fracture may spread more than 350 miles (560 kilometers) in one direction in less than three minutes. The point in Earth where the rocks first break is called the focus. compressional waves travel at about 4. For this reason. There are two chief kinds of seismic waves: (1) body waves and (2) surface waves. The focus of most earthquakes lies less than 45 miles (72 kilometers) beneath the surface. From the focus. Shear waves. Body waves travel faster deep within Earth than near the surface. They cause buildings and other structures to contract and expand.7 kilometers) per second. move at about 21/4 miles (3. Compressional waves are the fastest seismic waves. which travel slower and arrive later. Body waves tend to cause the most earthquake damage. the violent breaking of rock releases energy that travels through Earth in the form of vibrations called seismic waves. at depths of less than 16 miles (25 kilometers). but shear waves can pass only through solids. blocks of rock on one side of the fault may drop down below the rock on the other side. For example. they grow gradually weaker. The speed at which the fracture spreads depends on the type of rock. or gases.000 kilometers). liquids. Augustus E. Love waves travel through Earth's surface horizontally and move the ground from side to side. Compressional waves can travel through solids. Slower surface waves travel along the surface of Earth. and buildings shake. Love and Lord Rayleigh. For this reason. Surface waves are long. Earthquakes usually begin deep in the ground. or slide forward past the other. are called secondary (S) waves. the waves travel more than 11/2 times that speed. and Rayleigh waves. who mathematically predicted the existence of the waves in . they cause particles of rock to move in different Earth cause large blocks of rock along a fault to strain. There are two kinds of surface waves: (1) Love waves and (2) Rayleigh waves. Rayleigh waves make the surface of Earth roll like waves on the ocean. They produce what people feel as slow rocking sensations and cause little or no damage to buildings. and they arrive first at a distant point. though the deepest known focuses have been nearly 450 miles (700 kilometers) below the surface.2 kilometers) per second in granite or other strong rock.4 miles (3. move through Earth. the fastest seismic waves. the rock breaks and snaps into a new position. Body waves. As the fracture extends along the fault.

Ground shaking causes structures to sway from side to side. The liquefied soil may also flow toward lower ground. wet soils. lakes. Anything on top of liquefied soil may sink into the soft ground. Away from the fault. bridges. communication. In addition. and transportation after an earthquake may hamper rescue teams and . Drinking of such impure water may cause cholera. Fires may start if a quake ruptures gas or power lines. dams. shaking produces most of the damage. Picture San Francisco earthquake of 1906 A major cause of death and property damage in earthquakes is fire. and other bodies of water. The shifting blocks of earth may also loosen the soil and rocks along a slope and trigger a landslide. also known as seismic sea waves. typhoid. In some cases. and other serious diseases. Undersea earthquakes may cause huge tsunamis that swamp coastal areas. respectively. Some people call tsunamis tidal waves. collapse. ground settling.1911 and 1885. bounce up and down. only the rock deep in the ground shifts. Sewage lines may break. Tsunamis An earthquake on the ocean floor can give a tremendous push to surrounding seawater and create one or more large. Fault slippage The rock on either side of a fault may shift only slightly during an earthquake or may move several feet or meters. the ground may suddenly heave 20 feet (6 meters) or more. fault slippage may break down the banks of rivers. tall buildings may vibrate wildly during an earthquake and knock into each other. and no movement occurs at Earth's surface. In an extremely large earthquake. Buildings may slide off their foundations. Liquefaction occurs when strong ground shaking causes wet soils to behave temporarily like liquids rather than solids. Near a fault. called fault slippage. and glass. and the shaking of the ground due to seismic waves cause destruction. a process called liquefaction may intensify earthquake damage. Structural hazards Structures collapse during a quake when they are too weak or rigid to resist strong. destructive waves called tsunamis. such as tree limbs. and falling trees or tree branches. bricks. rocking forces. as well as many natural features. Damage by earthquakes How earthquakes cause damage Earthquakes can damage buildings. Other hazards during an earthquake include spills of toxic chemicals and falling objects. tsunamis typically move at speeds of 500 to 600 miles (800 to 970 kilometers) per hour. In the open ocean. both the shifting of large blocks of Earth's crust. Other hazards during earthquakes include rockfalls. In addition. dysentery. but scientists think the term is misleading because the waves are not caused by the tide. Tsunamis may build to heights of more than 100 feet (30 meters) when they reach shallow water near shore. burying anything in its path. or be shaken apart. and move in other violent ways. In areas with soft. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake ranks as one of the worst disasters in United States history because of a fire that raged for three days after the quake. They can travel great distances while diminishing little in size and can flood coastal areas thousands of miles or kilometers from their source. causing flooding. and sewage may seep into water supplies. and other structures. Loss of power. Any structure that spans a fault may be wrenched apart.

businesses and government offices may lose records and supplies. Base isolators act as shock absorbers. Reducing earthquake damage In areas where earthquakes are likely. From these maps. land-use planners develop zoning restrictions that can help prevent construction of unsafe structures in earthquake-prone areas. and property damage during a quake. called base isolators. and crossbracing. How to build An earthquake-resistant building includes such structures as shear walls. and the sites of past earthquakes. Builders also protect medium-sized buildings with devices that act like shock absorbers between the building and its foundation. loss of life. slowing recovery from the disaster. knowing where to build and how to build can help reduce injury. flood plains (areas that get flooded). the simpler reinforcement techniques include bolting buildings to their foundations and providing support walls called shear walls. Base isolators absorb some of the sideways motion that would otherwise damage a building. Their techniques range from extremely simple to fairly complex. Walls may also be reinforced with diagonal steel beams in a technique called cross-bracing. They develop maps that show fault zones. Shear walls in the center of a building. Shear walls. Knowing what to do when a quake strikes can also help prevent injuries and deaths. such as synthetic rubber. increasing deaths and injuries. often around an elevator shaft or stairwell. These devices. areas subject to landslides or to soil medium-sized buildings. Image credit: World Book illustration by Doug DeWitt Engineers have developed a number of ways to build earthquake-resistant structures. form what is called a shear core. help strengthen the structure and help resist rocking forces. made of reinforced concrete (concrete with steel rods or bars embedded in it). For small. a shear core. A moat allows the building to sway. Where to build Earth scientists try to identify areas that would likely suffer great damage during an earthquake. In addition. .ambulances. are usually bearings made of alternate layers of steel and an elastic material.

which could crash in an aftershock. rigid plates and about 20 smaller ones. and (3) transform faults. Safety precautions are vital during an earthquake. the rock becomes locked in place and cannot slide as the plates move. Even then. Earth's outer shell consists of about 10 large. a layer of hot. that explains why most earthquakes occur. Earthquake-resistant homes. Stress builds up in the rock on both sides of the fault and causes the rock to break and shift in an earthquake. Most of these faults are normal faults. and the rock moves up or down along the fracture. buildings. The lava gradually cools. They need a reinforced framework with stronger joints than an ordinary skyscraper has. Some earthquakes take place within the interior of a plate and are called intraplate earthquakes. There are three types of faults: (1) normal faults. People can protect themselves by standing under a doorframe or crouching under a table or chair until the shaking stops. The movement of the plates strains the rock at and near plate boundaries and produces zones of faults around these boundaries. Where and why earthquakes occur Scientists have developed a theory. blocks of rock break and slide down away from the ridge. If they are near a large body of water. hot lava from Earth's mantle rises between them. (2) reverse faults. Such a framework makes the skyscraper strong enough and yet flexible enough to withstand an earthquake. As the plates move. Along the faults. . the rock on both sides of the fault is greatly compressed. The compression forces the upper block to slide upward and the lower block to thrust downward. In a strike-slip fault. move apart. In normal and reverse faults. They must be anchored deeply and securely into the ground. the block of rock on the upper side of the sloping fracture slides down. People who are outdoors when an earthquake hits should quickly move away from tall trees. The plates move slowly and continuously on the asthenosphere. the fracture extends straight down into the rock. furniture. the thick layer of hot rock below the crust. and other structures fastened down to prevent them from toppling when the building shakes. and power lines. called aftershocks. Mid-ocean spreading ridges are places in the deep ocean basins where the plates move apart.Skyscrapers need special construction to make them earthquake-resistant. They should not go outdoors until the shaking has stopped completely. soft rock in the mantle. People should stay clear of walls. windows. steep slopes. Gas and water lines must be specially reinforced with flexible joints to prevent breaking. Along segments of some faults. In a normal fault. According to this theory. Scientists call this layer of crust and upper mantle the lithosphere. and cracks. (2) subduction zones. Each plate consists of a section of Earth's crust and a portion of the mantle. and (3) strike-slip faults. As the plates separate. or slide past one another. and damaged structures. called plate tectonics. Such earthquakes are known as interplate earthquakes. they should move to higher ground. In a reverse fault. they collide. creating faults. people should use extreme caution. and the blocks of rock along the fault slide past each other horizontally. schools. A large earthquake may be followed by many smaller quakes. Interplate earthquakes occur along the three types of plate boundaries: (1) mid-ocean spreading ridges. contracts. producing earthquakes. the fracture in the rock slopes downward. Most earthquakes occur in the fault zones at plate boundaries. and workplaces have heavy appliances.

called a seismogram. at a plate boundary. the plates are thin and weak. A seismograph is equipped with sensors called seismometers that can detect ground motions caused by seismic waves from both near and distant earthquakes. Below that depth. The record of the wave. or strike-slip faults. many of the faults there are reverse faults. An earthquake with a magnitude of less than 2. scientists use a recording instrument known as a seismograph. Strike-slip faults occur there. Probably the best-known gauge of earthquake intensity is the local Richter magnitude scale. Studying earthquakes Recording.Near the spreading ridges. This scale. A . Earthquakes along transform faults may be large. Subduction zones are places where two plates collide. The grinding of the colder. or recording tape or is stored and displayed by computers. the plates under the Pacific Ocean are plunging beneath the plates carrying the continents. Transform faults are places where plates slide past each other horizontally. The largest intraplate earthquakes are about 100 times smaller than the largest interplate earthquakes. (2) north-south. but not as large or deep as those in subduction zones. A seismograph produces wavy lines that reflect the size of seismic waves passing beneath it. brittle ocean plates beneath the continental plates creates huge strains that are released in the world's largest earthquakes. Every increase of one number in magnitude means the energy release of the quake is about 32 times greater. developed in 1935 by United States seismologist Charles F. an earthquake of magnitude 7. Some seismometers are capable of detecting ground motion as small as 0. Intraplate earthquakes are not as frequent or as large as those along plate boundaries. These strains may produce quakes along normal. measures the ground motion caused by an earthquake. commonly known as the Richter scale. One nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter or about 39 billionths of an inch. the rock is too warm and soft to break suddenly and cause earthquakes. Or the source of the strain may be a long distance away. reverse. weak areas of plate interiors. The San Andreas Fault and its associated faults account for most of California's earthquakes. The rock has not cooled completely. Because of the compression in these zones. so it is still somewhat flexible. Intraplate earthquakes tend to occur in soft. The slippage there is caused by the Pacific Plate moving past the North American Plate.0 releases about 32 times as much energy as an earthquake measuring 6. and most earthquakes near spreading ridges are shallow and mild or moderate in severity. The world's deepest earthquakes occur in subduction zones down to a depth of about 450 miles (700 kilometers). and the edge of one plate pushes beneath the edge of the other in a process called subduction. measuring. In these areas. About 80 per cent of major earthquakes occur in subduction zones encircling the Pacific Ocean. is imprinted on paper. One of the most famous transform faults is the San Andreas Fault. film.1 nanometer. For example. For these reasons. Scientists believe intraplate quakes may be caused by strains put on plate interiors by changes of temperature or pressure in the rock.0. The scientists use a separate sensor to record each direction of movement. and (3) east-west. and locating earthquakes To determine the strength and location of earthquakes. large strains cannot build. Scientists called seismologists measure seismic ground movements in three directions: (1) up-down. Richter.0 is so slight that usually only a seismometer can detect it.

Missouri. Once they know an earthquake's distance from three locations. The moment magnitude scale measures more of the ground movements produced by an earthquake. geologists have concluded that Earth is composed of layers of various densities and substances. Knowledge of rock densities within Earth has helped scientists determine the probable composition of Earth's interior. outer core. The largest intraplate earthquakes in the United States were three quakes that occurred in New Madrid. Scientists believe the inner core is solid because of the movement of compressional waves when they reach the inner core. Along these fault zones. they can sometimes detect small quakes. Scientists have found that seismic wave speeds and directions change abruptly at certain depths. Scientists estimate the earthquakes had moment magnitudes of 7. It was an interplate earthquake that occurred along the Pacific coast of Chile in South America in 1960. for example. Because shear waves cannot travel through liquids. Edwin Hubble . Shear waves do not travel through the outer core. 1920. During the largest of them.3. and other events that might signal a large earthquake is about to occur. Scientists are working to make accurate forecasts on when earthquakes will strike. mantle. Geologists closely monitor certain fault zones where quakes are expected. For example. Such studies have shown that rock density increases from the surface of Earth to its center. The largest intraplate earthquakes known struck in central Asia and in the Indian Ocean in 1905. These layers consist of the crust. Predicting earthquakes Scientists can make fairly accurate long-term predictions of where earthquakes will occur.0 as there are with magnitude 5. Although large earthquakes are customarily reported on the Richter scale.0.5. seismologists can calculate the distance of an earthquake from each seismograph. The largest earthquake ever recorded on the moment magnitude scale measured 9. scientists prefer to describe earthquakes greater than 7.0 may destroy many buildings. the ground shook from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Atlantic Coast to the Rocky Mountains. This belt is sometimes called the Ring of Fire because it has many volcanoes. they can find the quake's focus at the center of those three locations. earthquakes. Thus. and 1957.quake greater than 7. Exploring Earth's interior Most of what is known about the internal structure of Earth has come from studies of seismic waves. that about 80 percent of the world's major earthquakes happen along a belt encircling the Pacific Ocean. and other geologic activity. The number of earthquakes increases sharply with every decrease in Richter magnitude by one unit. it describes large earthquakes more accurately than does the Richter scale. the tilting of rock. Scientists locate earthquakes by measuring the time it takes body waves to arrive at seismographs in a minimum of three locations. there are 8 times as many quakes with magnitude 4. They know. The earthquakes were so powerful that they changed the course of the Mississippi River. These earthquakes had moment magnitudes between about 8.0 on the moment magnitude scale.0 and 8. in 1811 and 1812. and inner core. scientists believe the outer core is liquid. From these wave arrival times. From such studies.5.

Such an ocean could provide a home for living things. blisters. Europa The surface of Europa.Edwin Powell Hubble. which pull Europa's interior in different directions. None of them extend more than a few hundred yards or meters upward or downward. Based on this observation. the interior flexes.D. in Marshfield. valleys. In 1929. Missouri. the galaxy that contains our solar system. pits. was named in his honor. The splitting and shifting of the surface and disruptions from below have destroyed most of the old craters. degree from the University of Chicago in 1917. Hubble studied a hazy patch of the sky called the Andromeda Nebula. 1889. (1889-1953). In some places. he discovered that the farther apart galaxies are from each other. he joined the staff of the Mount Wilson Observatory in California. is a large moon of Jupiter. huge sections of the surface have split apart and separated. He earned a Ph. (yu ROH puh). . many astronomers believed that all stars and other celestial objects were part of the Milky Way. This internal heat comes from the gravitational forces of Jupiter and Jupiter's other large satellites. which may have an ocean of water beneath it. Hubble concluded that the universe expands uniformly. The Hubble Space Telescope. In the 1920's. Hubble was born on Nov. the faster they move away from each other. 28. Electrically charged particles from Jupiter's radiation belts continuously bombard Europa. As a result. He concluded that the stars in the nebula must be much farther from Earth than stars in our own galaxy. Hubble later studied the speed at which galaxies move away from each other. Europa's interior is hotter than its surface. 1953. His work proved that the Andromeda Nebula was actually a distant galaxy separate from our own. and icy flows. was an American astronomer whose work revolutionized our understanding of the size and structure of the universe. The surface of Europa has few impact craters (pits caused by collisions with asteroids or comets). The surface layer of ice or ice and water is 50 to 100 miles (80 to 160 kilometers) deep. consists mostly of huge blocks of ice that have cracked and shifted about. In the early 1900's. In 1919. ridges. 20. where he remained until his death on Sept. launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1990. producing heat in a process known as tidal heating. but most of the satellite is made of rock. Hubble noticed that it contained stars resembling stars in the Milky Way but much fainter. The core of Europa may be rich in iron. suggesting that there may be an ocean of liquid water underneath. Its surface features include shallow cracks. Its surface is made of ice. Europa is one of the smoothest bodies in the solar system. The satellite has an extremely thin atmosphere. a moon of Jupiter. Europa.

the United States Congress. SETI research continues in the United States under private support. The beings might have transmitted brief pulses of laser light into space as a signal to observers on other planets. The effort to find evidence that there is extraterrestrial intelligence is often called SETI.D. the Milky Way. Astronomers have photographed millions of them through telescopes.940 miles (3. No life has been discovered on any planet other than the Earth. Europa takes 3. However. Ph. the first SETI experiment unsuccessfully examined two stars at a single radio frequency.122 kilometers). The astronomers reasoned that intelligent beings on a planet orbiting a distant star might have developed powerful lasers.. dust. Astronomers on the earth would be able to distinguish powerful pulses that were a few billionths of a second in duration. These scientists base their conclusion on research in such fields as astronomy. McKinnon. They would have used pulses so that the observers could distinguish the laser light from the bright. After several dozen additional searches. Large galaxies have more than a trillion.88 trillion miles (9. In 1998. Galaxies range in diameter from a few thousand to a half-million light-years. In 1960. and gas held together by gravity. Researchers searched for weak microwave (short radio wave) signals originating near specific stars that are similar to the sun. The Italian astronomer Galileo discovered Europa in 1610. and paleontology (the study of prehistoric life through fossils). Contributor: William B. They also started to scan the entire sky for strong microwave signals. Small galaxies have fewer than a billion stars. Scientists estimate that there are more than 100 billion galaxies scattered throughout the visible universe.about 5. which stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. . In 1993. A light-year is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in a year -. steady light coming from their star. researchers have used large radio telescopes to search the sky. Much of what is known about it comes from data gathered by a space probe. In the belief that intelligent beings on other worlds would eventually develop radio technology. The most distant galaxies ever photographed are as far as 10 billion to 13 billion light-years away. astronomers began to search for pulses of laser light. many scientists have concluded that intelligent life may exist on planets orbiting some of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy. SETI researchers believe that the best way to discover other intelligent life in the galaxy is to look for evidence of technology developed by that life. Our solar system is in a galaxy called the Milky Way.Europa's diameter is 1.46 trillion kilometers). instructed NASA to end the project. Galaxy A galaxy is a system of stars. biology.900 kilometers). slightly smaller than Earth's moon. the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1992 began a two-part project known as the High Resolution Microwave Survey. Professor of Earth and Planetary SciencesExtraterrestrial Intelligence Extraterrestrial (EHKS truh tuh REHS tree uhl) intelligence is intelligent life that developed somewhere other than the Earth.55 days to orbit Jupiter at a distance of 416. planetary science.900 miles (670. in a budget-cutting measure. also named Galileo. that orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003.

One of the largest structures ever mapped is a network of galaxies known as the Great Wall. This galaxy. People in the Northern Hemisphere can see the Andromeda Galaxy. are grouped in larger structures called superclusters. Image credit: D. the Milky Way. It may have a diameter as large as 10 million lightyears. the Milky Way has a bar of stars. Only three galaxies outside the Milky Way are visible with the unaided eye. Levay (Space Telescope Science The Milky Way has a diameter of about 100. Image credit: NASA . People in the Southern Hemisphere can see the Large Magellanic Cloud. Others occur in pairs. The solar system lies about 25.000 lightyears from the center of the galaxy. Clusters of galaxies.A spiral galaxy resembles a pinwheel. which is about 180. known as M100. This structure is more than 500 million lightyears long and 200 million light-years wide. However. with each orbiting the other. in turn. dust.000 light-years away. galaxies are arranged in huge networks. But most of them are found in groups called clusters. with spiral arms coiling out from a central bulge. This globular cluster is one of the densest of the 147 known clusters in the Milky Way galaxy. which is about 160. looks much like our home galaxy. which is about 2 million light-years away. and the Small Magellanic Cloud. Hunter (Lowell Observatory) and Z. Groups of galaxies Galaxies are distributed unevenly in space. A cluster may contain from a few dozen to several thousand galaxies. Shapes of galaxies A globular cluster is a tightly grouped swarm of stars held together by gravity.000 light-years. Some have no close neighbor. There are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way. The networks consist of interconnected strings or filaments of galaxies surrounding relatively empty regions known as voids. and gas across its center. On even larger scales.000 light-years from Earth.

A spiral galaxy is shaped like a disk with a bulge in the center. irregular galaxies. makes a complete revolution once every 250 million years or so. Elliptical galaxies have much less dust and gas than spiral galaxies have. If two rapidly moving galaxies collide. Such mergers can produce spiral filaments of stars that can extend more than 100. elliptical galaxies rotate much more slowly than spiral galaxies or not at all. yellowish stars in the foreground are part of the Milky Way. An irregular galaxy. . Like pinwheels. for example. but little dust. Some consist mostly of blue stars and puffy clouds of gas. New stars are constantly forming out of gas and dust in spiral galaxies. Others are made up mostly of bright young stars along with gas and dust. Image credit: NASA Galaxies of a third kind. The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. As far as astronomers can determine.000 light-years into space. The bright. and few new stars appear to be forming in them. and occasionally two galaxies come so close to each other that the gravitational force of each changes the shape of the other. The disk resembles a pinwheel. Sextans A does not have a simple shape like a spiral or elliptical galaxy. all spiral galaxies rotate -. Smaller groups of stars called globular clusters often surround spiral galaxies. The Milky Way.but slowly. However.Astronomers classify most galaxies by shape as either spiral galaxies or elliptical galaxies. they can merge into a single galaxy that is bigger than either of the original galaxies. The light from an elliptical galaxy is brightest in the center and gradually becomes fainter toward its outer regions. Earth's "home" galaxy. when slow-moving galaxies collide. Galaxies move relative to one another. Elliptical galaxies range in shape from almost perfect spheres to flattened globes. lack a simple shape. with bright spiral arms that coil out from the central bulge. A typical globular cluster has about 1 million stars. The Magellanic Clouds are irregular galaxies of this type. they may pass right through each other with little or no effect. The stars within them appear to move in random orbits. Galaxies can even collide.

Another supernova may leave behind a neutron star. The most distant galaxies yet observed appear as faint patches of light in this photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. infrared rays. The energy emitted by galaxies comes from various sources. A variety of violent events also provide a great deal of the energy. which consists mostly of tightly packed neutrons. Much of it is due to the heat of the stars and of clouds of dust and gas called nebulae. Beckwith (STScl) . (2) much more violent supernova explosions. which astronomers theorize is twisted because of gravitational effects that occurred when it absorbed a smaller galaxy. All these forms of radiation together make up the electromagnetic spectrum. particles that ordinarily occur only in the nuclei of atoms. in which one of the two members of a binary star system hurls dust and gas into space. The brighter swirls are galaxies somewhat closer to Earth. which has such powerful gravitational force that not even light can escape it. Image credit: NASA and Hubble Heritage Team All galaxies emit (give off) energy as waves of visible light and other kinds of electromagnetic radiation. The telescope photographed this tiny portion of the sky. and the bright orange object is a star in our own galaxy. electromagnetic radiation consists of radio waves. In order of decreasing wavelength (distance between successive wave crests). in which a star collapses. visible light. Image credit: NASA/ESA/S. then throws off most of its matter. in 2004. and gamma rays. ultraviolet rays. invisible object called a black hole. One supernova may leave behind a compact. called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. These events include two kinds of stellar explosions: (1) nova explosions. But some supernovae leave nothing behind. X rays.Emissions from galaxies An image taken in 2001 with the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the irregular-shaped galaxy ESO 510-13.

The black hole can be as much as a billion times as massive as the sun. but appears larger than.that is. adding their mass to a disk of matter called an accretion disk that orbits the black hole. Electrons and protons are forms of ordinary matter. but it does have a powerful source of radiation called Sagittarius A* at its center. its gravitational force is powerful enough to tear apart nearby stars. The resulting dust and gas fall toward the black hole. These particles include positively charged protons and positrons and negatively charged electrons. The cause of this radiation may be a black hole a million times as massive as the sun. electrically charged particles. the Milky Way. or both radio waves and X rays. The diameter of the Milky Way is approximately 100. it loses energy. The most powerful such object is a quasar. Galaxy M83 The galaxy M83 is shaped much like our home galaxy. a quasar. The cause of the intense activity in active galaxies is thought to arise from a colossal black hole at the galactic center. At the same time. Some active galaxies emit jets and blobs of highly energetic.The intensity of the radiation emitted by a star at various wavelengths depends on the star's surface temperature.roughly 700 billion times the sun's diameter. Radiation of this type. thereby producing the radiation and jets that shoot out of the galaxy. For example. which emits a huge amount of radio. Quasar is short for quasi-stellar radio source.000 light-years -. they have the same mass (amount of matter) as electrons. The distribution of the wavelengths of the emissions does not resemble that of normal stars. Image credit: noAO/AURA/NSF The Milky Way is not an active galaxy. matter from the inner edge of the disk falls into the black hole. A Seyfert galaxy is a spiral galaxy that emits large amounts of infrared rays as well as large amounts of radio waves. but they carry the opposite charge. yet look like stars in photographs. ultraviolet. the sun. The name comes from the fact that the first quasars identified emit mostly radio energy and look much like stars. As the matter falls. and gamma-ray energy. X rays. but positrons are antimatter particles. Some quasars emit 1. Seyfert. They are the antimatter opposites of electrons -. This energy results from violent events occurring in objects at their center. which has a surface temperature of about 5500 ¡C (10. See Antimatter. infrared. and so the emissions are known as nonthermal radiation. is called thermal radiation. Origin of galaxies . who in 1943 became the first person to discover one.000 times as much energy as the entire Milky Way. A small percentage of galaxies called active galaxies emit tremendous amounts of energy. whose intensity depends on temperature as it does for the sun and other normal stars.000 ¡F) emits most of its radiation in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum. X-ray. A radio galaxy is related to. Seyfert galaxies get their name from American astronomer Carl K. Because the black hole is so massive and compact.

and chemical composition. But all big bang theories of galaxy formation agree that no new galaxies -. The greater the amount of redshift. The smaller groups of stars then formed within them. Gravity then slowly compressed these masses into galaxies. Image credit: World Book diagram by Ernest Norcia Astronomers estimate the speed at which a galaxy is moving away by measuring the galaxy's redshift. The small regions of increased density had a stronger gravitational force than the surrounding matter. large objects such as galaxies and clusters of galaxies formed first. The cause of the displacement is known as redshift because the lines are displaced toward the red end of the spectrum. According to these theories. masses of gas began to gather together or collapse. Shortly after the big bang. those lines would appear in the positions shown in the upper diagram. Bottom-up theories state that much smaller objects such as globular clusters formed first. The differences in strength arise from tiny increases in the density of matter in the universe shortly after the big bang. the more rapid the movement. Clumps of matter therefore formed in these regions.have formed since the earliest times. These lines are shifted toward the red end of the spectrum if the galaxy is moving away. The law was named after American astronomer Edwin P.Scientists have proposed two main kinds of theories of the origin of galaxies: (1) bottom-up theories and (2) top-down theories. The redshift is an apparent lengthening of electromagnetic waves emitted by an object moving away from the observer. The two kinds of theories differ concerning how the galaxies evolved. These observations indicate that all galaxies are moving away from one another and that the galaxies farthest from the Milky Way are moving away most rapidly. and the clumps eventually collapsed into galaxies. the universe is still expanding. The strength of the radio waves appeared to be very nearly the same in every direction. The starting point for both kinds of theories is the big bang. or Hubble's law. the waves are radiation left over from the initial explosion. Redshift causes a displacement of lines in the spectrum (band of colors) sent out by a galaxy that is moving away from Earth. According to the big bang theory. In 1965. Astronomers have found evidence of what conditions were like before the galaxies formed. Scientists estimate the distance to galaxies by measuring the galaxies' overall brightness or the . a satellite called the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) detected tiny differences in the strength of radio waves coming from different directions. These objects then merged to form galaxies. Most astronomical observations made to date support big bang theories. A redshift can be measured when light from a galaxy is broken up and spread out into a band of colors called a spectrum. who reported it in 1929. This relationship between speed and distance is known as the Hubble law of recession (moving backward). If the galaxy were motionless relative to Earth. Hubble. According to top-down theories. Two kinds of observations strongly support the idea of an expanding universe. the explosion with which the universe began 10 billion to 20 billion years ago. American physicists Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detected faint radio waves throughout the sky.or very few -. The spectrum of a galaxy contains bright and dark lines that are determined by the galaxy's temperature. density. But in 1992.

4 to 0. He became a French citizen in 1673. Stars then form in the arms. leading to the appearance of spiral arms of dense dust and gas. According to one proposed solution to the mystery.4 degrees F (0. He used the fixed shadows to determine the length of Jupiter's day. The galaxy spins much like the cream on the surface of a cup of coffee. (1625-1712). 1712 Global Warming Global warming is an increase in the average temperature of Earth's surface. in what is now northern Italy.8 degrees C). That rate of increase would be much larger than most past rates of increase.5 to 10. Many experts estimate that the average temperature will rise an additional 2. 1625. Giovanni Cassini Giovanni Domenico Cassini. a space probe that the United States launched in 1997 to investigate that planet was named after him. Cassini used the moon shadows to create tables of the motions of the moons. the global average temperature has increased about 0. Because of his discoveries pertaining to Saturn. so countries throughout the world drafted an agreement called the Kyoto Protocol to help limit it. Since the late 1800's. Suppose a spiral arm rotated around the center of its galaxy in about 250 million years -. Global warming could cause much harm. A familiar example of waves of compression are ordinary sound waves. in Perinaldo. he became a professor of astronomy at the University of Bologna.7 to 1. established his reputation as an astronomer. The gap is now known as the Cassini division.4 degrees F (1.8 degrees C) by 2100. These objects include variable stars as well as supernovae. The mystery arises when one considers how a spiral galaxy rotates. the arms would "wind up. Cassini is also known by the French name Jean Dominique Cassini. After a few rotations. the waves seem to travel in a spiral path. But almost all spiral galaxies are much older than 2 billion years. An ecosystem consists of the living organisms and physical environment in a particular area. Scientists worry that human societies and natural ecosystems might not adapt to rapid climate changes. Later. was an Italian-born French astronomer who discovered four moons of Saturn and a large gap in Saturn's ring system. He went to Paris in 1669 and soon became the first director of the Paris Observatory. and gas.4 to 5.brightness of certain kinds of objects within them. Evolution of spiral galaxies Astronomers do not understand clearly how galactic spirals evolved and why they still exist. Because the galaxy is rotating. taking perhaps 2 billion years. differences in gravitational force throughout the galaxy push and pull at the stars. he closely approximated the distance from Earth to the sun. published in 1662. This activity produces waves of compression. . and the arms trail behind. 14. The inner part of the galaxy rotates somewhat like a solid wheel. Cassini's tables of the sun. Cassini was born on June 8. He had precisely measured the sun's apparent motion through the sky. Cassini's observations of Jupiter were so precise that he could distinguish between shadows cast by moons of Jupiter and fixed shadows on Jupiter's surface. dust. Cassini died in Paris on Sept. In 1650." producing a fairly continuous mass of in the Milky Way.

Image credit: NASA/Earth Observatory . A small number of scientists argue that the increase in greenhouse gases has not made a measurable difference in the temperature. The main human activities that contribute to global warming are the burning of fossil fuels (coal. The area of the ice was larger than the state of Rhode Island or the nation of Luxembourg. A majority of climatologists have concluded that human activities are responsible for most of the warming. whose chemical formula is CO2.Causes of global warming Climatologists (scientists who study climate) have analyzed the global warming that has occurred since the late 1800's. Antarctic ice shelves have been shrinking since the early 1970's because of climate warming in the region. Trees and other plants remove CO2 from the air during photosynthesis. the process they use to produce food. and natural gas) and the clearing of land. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that slows the escape of heat into space. and in electric power plants that provide energy for houses and office buildings. They say that natural processes could have caused global warming. Those processes include increases in the energy emitted (given off) by the sun. The greenhouse effect warms Earth's surface through a complex process involving sunlight. Most of the burning occurs in automobiles. The burning of fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide. oil. But the vast majority of climatologists believe that increases in the sun's energy have contributed only slightly to recent warming.250 square miles (3. Human activities contribute to global warming by enhancing Earth's natural greenhouse effect. Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are known as greenhouse gases. The clearing of land contributes to the buildup of CO2 by reducing the rate at which the gas is removed from the atmosphere or by the decomposition of dead vegetation.240 square kilometers) of the Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated in 2002. The impact of global warming Thousands of icebergs float off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula after 1. and particles in the atmosphere. gases. in factories.

and other inhabited regions. Floods and droughts could increase hunger and malnutrition. causing flooding. Weather damage Extreme weather conditions might become more frequent and therefore more damaging. and an entry of seawater into freshwater areas. In certain parts of the world. such as coral reefs. erosion. over centuries. Harm to ocean life Through global warming. a loss of wetlands. increasing the stress on ocean ecosystems.either preventing carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere or removing CO2 already there. and they could become more powerful. For example. Many species would have difficulty surviving in the regions they now inhabit. might spread to larger regions. and crop yields could decline. melt large amounts of ice from a vast sheet that covers most of West Antarctica. Changes in crop yields Canada and parts of Russia might benefit from an increase in crop yields. And human occupation has altered the landscape in ways that would make new habitats hard to reach or unavailable altogether. many flowering plants will not bloom without a sufficient period of winter cold. Global warming could melt enough polar ice to raise the sea level. drought. Changes in rainfall patterns could increase both flooding and drought in some areas. Changes of habitat Widespread shifts might occur in the natural habitats of animals and plants. It could also force animals and plants on land to move to new habitats. such as malaria and dengue. As a result. Many coastal areas would experience flooding. they expel the algae that give them their color and nourishment. Two key methods would be (1) limiting CO2 emissions and (2) carbon sequestration -. High water temperatures can cause a damaging process called coral bleaching. human disease could spread. But any increases in yields could be more than offset by decreases caused by drought and higher temperatures -. and an increase in damaging storms. High sea levels would submerge some coastal cities. More hurricanes and other tropical storms might occur. small island nations. Added warmth also helps spread diseases that affect sea creatures.particularly if the amount of warming were more than a few degrees Celsius. .Continued global warming could have many damaging effects. When corals bleach. Weather patterns could change. Yields in the tropics might fall disastrously because temperatures there are already almost as high as many crop plants can tolerate. they die. the surface waters of the oceans could become warmer. It might harm plants and animals that live in the sea. Longer-lasting and more intense heat waves could cause more deaths and illnesses. the sea level would rise throughout the world. The corals turn white and. unless the water temperature cools. Rising sea level Continued global warming might. Limited global warming Climatologists are studying ways to limit global warming. Threats to human health Tropical diseases.

As a whole. Suppose an industrialized nation cut its emissions more than was required by the agreement. That country could sell other industrialized nations emission reduction units allowing those nations to emit the amount equal to the excess it had . scientists have not yet determined the environmental impacts of using the ocean for carbon sequestration. The value of that product could offset the cost of sequestration. Underground or underwater storage would involve injecting industrial emissions of CO2 into underground geologic formations or the ocean. which they store in their tissues. Alternative sources of energy are more expensive to use than fossil fuels. They combine carbon from CO2 with hydrogen to make simple sugars. and (2) to use fossil fuels more efficiently. Solar cells can convert sunlight to electric energy.Limiting CO2 emissions Two effective techniques for limiting CO2 emissions would be (1) to replace fossil fuels with energy sources that do not emit CO2. Deep deposits of salt or coal could also be suitable. Japan. After plants die. Agreement on global warming Delegates from more than 160 countries met in Kyoto. the 38 countries would restrict their emissions to a yearly average of about 95 percent of their 1990 emissions. Pumping CO2 into a reservoir would have the added benefit of making it easier to remove the remaining oil or gas. That agreement calls for decreases in the emissions of greenhouse gases. The oceans could store much CO2. their bodies decay and release CO2. Devices known as wind turbines can convert wind energy to electric energy. The restrictions would occur from 2008 through 2012. Different countries would have different emissions targets. and various devices can convert solar energy to useful heat. Carbon sequestration could take two forms: (1) underground or underwater storage and (2) storage in living plants. However. Geothermal power plants convert energy in underground steam to electric energy. But it encourages the industrialized nations to cooperate in helping developing countries limit emissions voluntarily. could tie up much carbon. The agreement does not place restrictions on developing countries. increased research into their use would almost certainly reduce their cost. the sequestered carbon would re-enter the atmosphere as CO2. sunlight. in 1997 to draft the agreement that became known as the Kyoto Protocol. Ecosystems with abundant plant life. Alternative energy sources that do not emit CO2 include the wind. future generations of people would have to keep the ecosystems intact. and underground steam. Suitable underground formations include natural reservoirs of oil and gas from which most of the oil or gas has been removed. Otherwise. nuclear energy. Storage in living plants Green plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow. However. such as forests and even cropland. Emissions targets Thirty-eight industrialized nations would have to restrict their emissions of CO2 and five other greenhouse gases. However. Industrialized nations could also buy or sell emission reduction units.

and the third only the human activities. The second simulation took into account only the natural processes. and (2) the industrialized countries ratifying the protocol had CO2 emissions in 1990 that equaled at least 55 percent of the emissions of all 38 industrialized countries in 1990. The equations describe how various factors. The climatologists then compared the temperatures predicted by the three simulations with the actual temperatures recorded by thermometers. In 2001. produced results that corresponded closely to the recorded temperatures. Bush said that the agreement could harm the U. However.cut.S. the scientist enters data representing the values of those factors at a certain time. including nearly all the countries classified as industrialized under the protocol. President George W. such as the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. He or she then runs the program. and the computer describes how the temperature would vary. Next. Computers help climatologists analyze past climate changes and predict future changes. Climatologists used three simulations to determine whether natural variations in climate produced the warming of the past 100 years. For example. Only the first simulation. the nation might help a developing country reduce emissions by replacing fossil fuels in some applications. more than 100 countries. Other countries. the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A computer's representation of changing climatic conditions is known as a climate simulation. most notably the members of the European Union. affect the temperature of Earth's surface. The first simulation took into account both natural processes and human activities that affect the climate. the agreement required ratification by Russia or the United States to go into effect. By 2004. cores (cylindrical samples) of ice drilled from Antarctica and Greenland. Those sources include tree rings. First. Russia ratified the protocol in November 2004. published results of climate simulations in a report on global warming. which took into account both natural processes and human activities. a group sponsored by the United Nations (UN). and cores drilled out of sediments in oceans. Several other programs could also help an industrialized nation earn credit toward its target. Approving the agreement The protocol would take effect as a treaty if (1) at least 55 countries ratified (formally approved) it. Information from these sources indicates that the temperature increase of the 1900's was probably the largest in the last 1. The different simulations took into account the same natural processes but different patterns of human activity. For example. Analyzing global warming Scientists use information from several sources to analyze global warming that occurred before people began to use thermometers. The IPCC also published results of simulations that predicted temperatures until 2100. agreed to continue with the agreement without United States participation. But he declared that the United States would work with other countries to limit global warming. scenarios differed in the amounts of CO2 that would enter the atmosphere due to human . The treaty was to come into force in February 2005. had ratified the agreement.000 years. a scientist programs a computer with a set of mathematical equations known as a climate model. the United States rejected the Kyoto Protocol. In 2001. economy.

He then assumed that Earth's gravitation decreases in the same way with the distance from Earth. scientists had observed only one movement that could not be described mathematically using Newton's law -. Mercury's orbit -. For example. the force between them becomes one-fourth of its original strength.a tiny variation in the orbit of the planet Mercury around the sun. An object's mass is its amount of matter. People misunderstood gravitation for centuries. Even if all emissions of greenhouse gases were to cease immediately. when the Italian scientist Galileo corrected it. and it keeps the planets in their orbits around the sun. People accepted that idea until the early 1600's. The law also says that the gravitational force between two objects is inversely (oppositely) proportional to the distance between the two objects squared (multiplied by itself). Gravitation holds together the hot gases that make up the sun. The calculated result was the same as the strength of the gravitation that would accelerate an apple. However. Another term for gravitation is the force of gravity. In the 300's B. Newton explained his discovery in 1687 in a work called Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy). Newton's law of gravitation Ancient astronomers measured the movements of the moon and planets across the sky. An object's acceleration is the rate of change of its velocity (speed in a particular direction). Galileo said that all objects fall with the same acceleration unless air resistance or some other force acts on them.C. So one point in each orbit is closer . he calculated what the strength of that gravitation would be at Earth's surface.activities. no one correctly explained those motions until the late 1600' an ellipse. when Newton was 23 years old. if the distance between the two objects doubles. The simulations showed that there can be no "quick fix" to the problem of global warming. the Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle taught the incorrect idea that heavy objects fall faster than light objects. the larger either mass is. Using his assumption. The sun is not at the exact center of the ellipse. a heavy object and a light object that are dropped from the same height will reach the ground at the same time. the larger is the force between the two objects. We experience this force on our bodies as our weight. and d2 is the distance between them squared. Using laws of planetary motion discovered by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler. At that time. Gravitation is the force of attraction that acts between all objects because of their mass.. the temperature would continue to increase after 2100 because of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. An object that is already on the surface experiences a downward force due to gravitation. a geometric figure with the shape of a flattened hoop. In 1665. Newton showed how the sun's force of gravity must decrease with the distance from the sun. an object that is near Earth falls toward the surface of the planet. and he calculated the strength of Earth's gravitation at the distance of the moon. a falling apple caused him to question how far the force of gravity reaches. the English scientist Isaac Newton described a connection between the movements of the celestial bodies and the gravitation that attracts objects to Earth. m1 and m2 are the masses of the the orbits of the other planets -. That is. Because of gravitation. Newton's law is given by the equation F = m1m2 / d 2. Newton knew that Earth's gravitation holds the moon in its orbit around Earth. Newton's law of gravitation says that the gravitational force between two objects is directly proportional to their masses. Thus. where F is the gravitational force between two objects. Until the early 1900's.

the result agreed exactly with the observed motion. curving it. Scientists used Newton's law to calculate the precession. However. Predictions of general relativity In the years since the calculation of Mercury's precession confirmed Einstein's theory. Einstein's theory of gravitation In 1915. Einstein's theory produced results that differed only slightly from results based on Newton's law. For example. the general theory of relativity. Astronomers refer to that variation as a precession. That agreement was the first confirmation of Einstein's theory. and the expansion of the universe. The ball would appear to fall toward the rear of the ship exactly as if gravity had acted upon it. The calculated amount differed slightly from the observed amount. The first is related to an entity known as space-time. physicists refer to space-time. But the location of the closest point changes slightly each time Mercury revolves around the sun. In many cases. Bending and slowing of radio waves . Some examples include predictions of the bending of light rays and radio waves. suppose you were in a rocket ship so far from any planet. time. time and space are not absolutely other words. The principle of equivalence states that the effects of gravity are equivalent to the effects of acceleration. star.length. the existence of gravity waves and black holes. Einstein based his theory on two assumptions. when Einstein used his theory to calculate the precession of Mercury's orbit. and that gravitation is an effect of the curvature. Instead. and gravitation. or other celestial object that the ship experienced virtually no gravitation. rather than contradicting it. and scientists first confirmed this prediction during a total eclipse of the sun in 1919. To understand this principle. a combination of time and the three dimensions of space -. but not accelerating -. Einstein's theory completely changed scientists' way of thinking about gravitation. Einstein assumed that matter and energy can distort (change the shape of) space-time. Space-time In the complex mathematics of relativity. it would hover beside the sun than all other points in that orbit. But suppose the rocket accelerated by increasing its speed. The sun is massive enough to bend rays by an observable amount. several observations have verified predictions made with the theory. and the second is a rule known as the principle of equivalence. it expanded upon Newton's law. and height. Imagine that the ship was moving forward. If you held out a ball and released it. The bending will occur because the body will curve space-time. that the ship was traveling at a constant speed and in a constant direction. Instead. the ball would not fall. width. Bending of light rays Einstein's theory predicts that gravity will bend the path of a light ray as the ray passes near a massive body. the German-born physicist Albert Einstein announced his theory of space.

The measurements agree well with the prediction. calling it his greatest blunder. the study of the universe as a whole. The theory showed that the universe must either expand or contract. By closely observing changes in the pulse rate of a binary pulsar. to the theory. A pulsar emits two steady beams of radio waves that flow away in opposite directions. and that most large galaxies have a gigantic black hole at their centers. That term represented a repulsion (pushing away) of every point in space by the surrounding points. scientists have confirmed the existence of gravitational waves indirectly by observing an object known as a binary pulsar. Researchers have found strong evidence that most very massive stars eventually evolve into black holes. preventing contraction. Hubble's discovery indicated that the universe is expanding. If one of the radio beams periodically sweeps over Earth. but unobserved. In addition. Einstein added a term. Einstein applied general relativity to cosmology. and astronomers have measured the amount of the decrease. the American astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that distant galaxies are moving away from Earth and that. A binary pulsar is a rapidly rotating neutron star that orbits a similar. the cosmological constant. the pulsar's orbit precesses as the pulsar revolves around the companion star. however. the beams sweep around in space like searchlight beams. the more rapidly it is moving away. Scientists have measured the sun's bending of radio waves emitted (sent out) by quasars. Scientists have also used equations of general relativity to calculate the amount by which the orbital period would decrease if the binary pulsar was radiating away energy as gravitational waves. Einstein abandoned the cosmological constant. Since 1974. scientists can determine the pulsar's orbital period -. The calculated amount agrees with the measured amount. the more distant a galaxy. General relativity predicts the precession rate. A black hole is a region of space whose gravitational force is so strong that not even light can escape from it. To prevent his theory from disagreeing with the available evidence. scientists had not yet found any evidence of expansion or contraction. extremely powerful objects at the centers of some galaxies. In 1917. Gravitational waves General relativity also indicates that massive bodies in orbit around each other will emit waves of energy known as gravitational waves. Expansion of the universe In a paper published in 1917. .The theory also predicts that the sun will bend radio waves and slow them down. But in 1929. Those measurements still represent one of the most precise confirmations of general relativity. particles that ordinarily occur only in the nuclei of atoms. As the star rotates on its own axis.the time it takes the two stars to completely orbit each other. In response to Hubble's discovery and confirming observations by other astronomers. companion star. A neutron star consists mostly of tightly packed neutrons. Researchers measured a delay of radio waves that pass near the sun by sending signals between Earth and the Viking space probes that reached Mars in 1976. Black holes Einstein's theory predicts the existence of objects called black holes. a radio telescope can detect the beam as a series of pulses. and measurements match the prediction with great precision. Observations of the binary pulsar called PSR 1913 + 16 indicate that its orbital period is decreasing.

The calculated age. The measurements showed that exploding stars known as supernovae in distant galaxies were dimmer than expected and that the galaxies therefore were farther away then expected. Scientists have not yet developed theories to account for the existence of dark energy. These and other observations suggest that the universe has at least 30 times as much dark matter as visible matter. That entity could be a cosmological constant or something much like it called dark energy. an isotope (form) of an element turns into an isotope of another element. Astronomers have concluded that the increase in the expansion rate is due to an entity that presently opposes gravitation. Stellar evolution As a star evolves. Astronomers can determine the ages of certain stars by measuring their temperature and brightness. and estimates of the amounts of dark energy and dark matter. and it is still expanding. Furthermore. astronomers generally thought that the rate of expansion was decreasing due to the gravitational attraction of galaxies for one another. . the rate of expansion has been increasing as predicted by general relativity with a cosmological constant. led to the development of the big bang theory of the origin of the universe. The matter in the universe includes both visible matter and a mysterious substance known as dark matter. about 14 billion years. Dark energy Although Einstein called the cosmological constant his greatest blunder. Matter then expanded rapidly. its surface temperature and its brightness change in a well-understood way. By means of such techniques." At the beginning of the event. it may turn out to be one of his greatest achievements. Until the measurements were reported. Those measurements show that the masses of galaxies are many times larger than the masses of the visible objects in them. explosive event -. agrees well with results determined by two methods that do not involve general relativity: (1) calculations based on the evolution of stars and (2) the radioactive dating of old stars. Gravitation and the age of the universe Other observations have helped show that the theory of general relativity applies to the whole universe. then performing calculations based on their knowledge of stellar evolution. But the galaxies could be so far away only if the rate of expansion had begun to increase in the past.but no stars that are clearly older than that. But measurements of the motion of stars and gas clouds in galaxies have led scientists to believe that it exists. but they know how much of it probably exists. The amount of dark energy in the universe is about twice as much as the amount of matter. the universe began with a hot. Radioactive isotopes decay at known rates. Cosmologists have calculated the age of the universe using equations of general relativity. Radioactive dating of stars is based on the fact that certain chemical elements undergo radioactive decay. Scientists do not know the composition of dark matter. According to that theory. the measured rate of expansion of the universe. Measurements reported in 1998 suggest that the universe is expanding more and more rapidly.a "big bang. all the matter in the part of the universe we can see was smaller than a marble. astronomers have found stars that may be about 13 billion years old -. together with other observations.The discovery of the expansion of the universe. In radioactive decay.

so the universe is probably older than that. Measurements of the ages of many old stars using another element. and the atmosphere is constantly moving. It is a reflecting telescope with a light-gathering mirror 94 inches (240 centimeters) in diameter. The most likely age of the star is 12. pictures of galaxies colliding and tearing each other apart. They then applied their knowledge of decay rates to calculate the age of the star. the Milky Way. and evidence suggesting that most galaxies have massive black holes in their center.5 billion years. who made fundamental contributions to astronomy in the 1920's. circles Earth high above the atmosphere. These include pictures of stars surrounded by dusty disks that might someday evolve into planetary systems. The atmosphere bends light due to a phenomenon known as diffraction. The researchers studied the isotope uranium 238. This combination of diffraction and movement causes starlight to jiggle about as it passes through the air. Astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to obtain images of celestial objects and phenomena in detail never before observed. The telescope is named after American astronomer Edwin P. . Hubble. Image credit: NASA The Hubble Space Telescope is a powerful orbiting telescope that provides sharper images of heavenly bodies than other telescopes do. gave similar results. The scientists knew how much uranium the star must have had when it formed. it can produce pictures in much finer detail than a ground-based telescope can. images of galaxies on the edge of the observable universe. an orbiting observatory launched in 1990.In 2001. thorium. and they measured how much it has now. Twinkling blurs images seen through ground-based telescopes. Because an orbiting telescope is above the atmosphere. the Hubble Space Telescope views the heavens without looking through the earth's atmosphere. scientists working with the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile applied the radioactive dating technique to an old star in our galaxy. Hubble Space Telescope The Hubble Space Telescope. and so stars appear to twinkle. whose nucleus contains 92 protons and 146 neutrons. How the telescope works In orbit about 380 miles (610 kilometers) above the earth.

such as the formation of disks around black holes and exploding stars. The CCD's convert light into electronic signals. spreads light into its component colors. A spectrograph. Infrared light has longer wavelengths than visible light. Image credit: NASA The Hubble Space Telescope can also observe ultraviolet and infrared light that is blocked by the atmosphere. These forms of light. for example.coupled devices (CCD's). like visible light. The telescope transmits the data by radio to astronomers on the ground. which an on -. calmer events. much as water droplets spread sunlight into a rainbow. Maryland. Imagers are electronic detectors called charge -. Using spectrographic data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Ultraviolet light comes from highly energetic processes. like a prism. the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). which take pictures. The different colors in the image represent different atmospheric conditions.This false-color image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope using infrared light shows Uranus's rings and clouds. carbon. The telescope is controlled by radio commands relayed from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. such as the formation of dust clouds around new stars. . operates the Hubble Space Telescope in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). Infrared light provides information about cooler. are electromagnetic radiation. and computer -. the amounts of hydrogen. The United States space agency. and other chemical elements in them.board computer records and sends to the ground. The Hubble Space Telescope has two kinds of instruments: (1) imagers. The wavelength (distance between successive wave crests) of ultraviolet light is shorter than that of visible light. and (2) spectrographs. astronomers can determine the composition of stars and galaxies--measuring. The resulting band of light is called a spectrum (plural spectra).driven instruments aboard the telescope record the resulting observations. which analyze light. Astronomers tell the telescope where to point.

The hurricane. The main mass of clouds shown in this photograph measures almost 250 miles (400 kilometers) across. The flaw made the images less clear than they otherwise would have been. The telescope photographed this tiny portion of the sky. NASA officials then agreed to study the possibility of sending a robotic craft to perform needed repairs. Hurricanes form in waters near the equator. named Andrew. . swirling storm that begins over a warm sea. and it worked as planned. engineers discovered a flaw in the telescope's light -. NASA administrators canceled a final servicing mission to the telescope that had been scheduled for 2006. Soon after launch. Engineers designed an optical device to bend light reflected by the mirror in a way that would make up for the error. As part of a continuing program to upgrade the telescope. struck the Bahamas. Scientists. In 2004. During the 1993 mission. politicians. 1999. and the bright orange object is a star in our own galaxy. called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. and astronomy enthusiasts protested that the decision would bring an early end to the telescope's observations. The brighter swirls are galaxies somewhat closer to Earth.History The most distant galaxies yet observed appear as faint patches of light in this photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. astronauts installed additional components in 1997. Hurricane A hurricane is a powerful. in 2004. Image credit: ASA/ESA/S. and 2002. and then they move toward the poles. Hurricane winds swirl about the eye.gathering mirror. The officials based the decision on concern for the safety of astronauts after the loss of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. a calm area in the center of the storm. astronauts also mounted new instruments on the telescope. Beckwith (STScl) and the HUDF Team The space shuttle Discovery launched the telescope into orbit in 1990. Astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavour installed the device on the telescope in 1993.

and tropical cyclones occur in a year throughout the world. Hurricanes seldom occur closer to the equator. the hurricane season runs from December to March. Near Australia and in the Indian Ocean. The Coriolis effect increases in intensity farther from the equator. The clouds in a tropical disturbance may rise to . For a hurricane to form. The warm. lowering the atmospheric pressure of the air beneath. Warm seawater evaporates and is absorbed by the surrounding air. Air tends to move from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. typhoons. creating wind. they are referred to as tropical cyclones. (2) tropical depression. and Louisiana in 1992. They are called hurricanes when they happen over the North Atlantic Ocean. there must be a warm layer of water at the top of the sea with a surface temperature greater than 80 degrees F (26. In the eyewall. Hurricanes are referred to by different labels. August and September are the peak hurricane months.that is. These winds can reach nearly 200 miles (320 kilometers) per the top of the atmosphere is relatively less dense and therefore weighs relatively less. Damaging winds may extend 250 miles (400 kilometers) from the eye. the column of air that extends from the surface of the water -. In the Southern Hemisphere. In the North Indian Ocean. large changes in pressure create the hurricane's strongest winds. including ample heat and moisture. In the rest of this article.or land -. The wind shear would disrupt the budding hurricane by tipping it over or by blowing the top of the storm in one direction while the bottom moved in another direction. a low-pressure area must be more than 5 degrees of latitude north or south of the equator. Uniform winds enable the warm inner core of the storm to stay intact. Typhoons occur throughout the year in the Northwest Pacific but are most frequent in summer. This effect of the rotating earth on wind flow is called the Coriolis effect. the earth's rotation causes the wind to swirl into a low-pressure area in a counterclockwise direction. To produce a hurricane. the more water evaporates. Such storms are known as typhoons if they occur in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. the winds rotate clockwise around a low. In any area of low atmospheric pressure. west of an imaginary line called the International Date Line. (3) tropical storm.Florida. the term hurricane refers to all such storms. dark clouds called the eyewall. Cool air cannot hold as much water vapor as warm air can. In the South Indian Ocean. Approximately 85 hurricanes. In the Atlantic and the Northeast Pacific. Hurricane conditions Hurricanes require a special set of conditions. or both. and off the coast of Australia. or the Northeast Pacific Ocean. the Gulf of Mexico. that exist primarily over warm tropical oceans. tropical cyclones strike in May and November. depending on where they occur. and the excess water changes into tiny droplets of water that form clouds. Image credit: NASA The winds of a hurricane swirl around a calm central zone called the eye surrounded by a band of tall. The storm would break up if the winds at higher elevations increased markedly in speed. The eye is usually 10 to 40 miles (16 to 64 kilometers) in diameter and is free of rain and large clouds. moist air rises. the South Pacific Ocean. The life of a hurricane Meteorologists (scientists who study weather) divide the life of a hurricane into four stages: (1) tropical disturbance. killing 65 people and causing billions of dollars in damage. In the Northern Hemisphere.5 degrees C). there must be little wind shear -. changed direction. The clouds form when moist air rises and becomes cooler. The warmer the ocean. for example. Hurricanes are most common during the summer and early fall. little difference in speed and direction between winds at upper and lower elevations. Tropical disturbance is an area where rain clouds are building. the Caribbean Sea. For a hurricane to develop. and (4) hurricane.

The lists include both men's and women's names that are popular in countries affected by the storms. or Z. forming the towering thunderclouds that meteorologists call cumulonimbus clouds. there is so much heat energy and moisture in the atmosphere that new cumulonimbus clouds continually form from rising moist air. Cumulonimbus clouds usually produce heavy rains that end after an hour or two. however. Viewed from above. however. Because storms in the Northwestern Pacific occur throughout the year. since there are few names beginning with such letters as Q or U. and so on.such as Tropical Storm Alberto. The first typhoon of the year might be Typhoon Nona. there was no formal system. On a map of surface pressure. The lists do not use all the letters of the alphabet. A meteorologist considers a depression to exist when there is low pressure over a large enough area to be plotted on a weather map. moist air. If conditions are right for a hurricane. the first storm of the year gets a name beginning with A -. Before that year. in turn. The second storm gets a name beginning with B. for example. Storms commonly received women's names and names of saints of both genders. no Atlantic or Caribbean storms receive names beginning with Q. Hurricane Hurricane winds on the ocean surface swirl counterclockwise around a calm eye in the Northern Hemisphere. and so on through the alphabet. Charlie. The system of naming storms has changed since 1950. The winds swirl slowly around the low-pressure area at first. For example. such a depression appears as one or two circular isobars (lines of equal pressure) over a tropical ocean. the names run through the entire alphabet instead of starting over each year. more warm. issues four alphabetical lists of names. and the weather clears rapidly. the WMO began to use men's names as well. Baker. Tropical storm When the winds exceed 38 miles (61 kilometers) per hour. Image credit: World Book illustrations by Bruce Kerr . Except in the Northwestern and Central Pacific. moist air is drawn in. and Northwestern Pacific. the storm clouds now have a well-defined circular shape. the winds blow harder. The increased warmth and moisture in the air feed the storm. the more the pressure at the surface falls.Able. The low pressure near the ocean surface draws in warm. As the pressure becomes even lower. If the storm intensifies into a hurricane. draws more air into the storm. Central. a tropical storm has developed. The WMO began to use only the names of women in 1953. Each tropical storm receives a name. Y. it becomes Hurricane Alberto. From 1950 to 1952. X. The Central Pacific usually has fewer than five named storms each year. and the winds blow faster. The seas have become so rough that ships must steer clear of the area. U. The falling pressure. As more air is pulled into the storm. The names help meteorologists and disaster planners avoid confusion and quickly convey information about the behavior of a storm. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO). one for the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.great heights. The strong winds near the surface of the ocean draw more and more heat and water vapor from the sea. In 1979. Tropical depression is a low-pressure area surrounded by winds that have begun to blow in a circular pattern. and one each for the Eastern. A tropical storm has a column of warm air near its center. storms were given names from the United States military alphabet -. an agency of the United Nations. which feeds more thunderstorms. The warmer this column becomes.

A 1970 cyclone in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) produced a surge that killed about 266. The hurricane draws large amounts of heat and moisture from the sea. and radar to watch for areas of rapidly falling pressure that may become hurricanes. described as weak.400 kilometers). because it no longer receives heat energy and moisture from warm tropical water. The end comes quickly if a hurricane moves over land. even after the winds have diminished. The fierce winds also create danger from flying debris. A . the National Weather Service issues a hurricane watch. the worst natural disaster in United States history. As the storms approach the coast of North America or Asia. In the eyewall. the storms may travel westward at first and then turn southwest. it usually has a well-developed eye at its center.000 people. Most hurricanes turn gradually northwest. which struck the Bahamas.000 people. called rainbands. The path of an individual hurricane is irregular and often difficult to predict. These bands. ranging from Category 1. however.800 to 6. which hit the United States in 1969. Heavy rains fall from the eyewall and bands of dense clouds that swirl around the eyewall. Surface pressure drops to its lowest in the eye. is a rapid rise in sea level called a storm surge. Hurricane damage Hurricane damage results from wind and water. a hurricane's winds blow faster if its eye is small. which raked the West Indies and Mexico in 1988. satellites. to Category 5. however. however. The most dangerous effect of a hurricane. Forecasting hurricanes Meteorologists use weather balloons. and Hurricane Andrew. warm air spirals upward. Just as ice skaters spin faster when they pull their arms in. Simpson. A storm surge is produced when winds drive ocean waters ashore. The path of a hurricane Hurricanes last an average of 3 to 14 days. in 1900 produced a surge that killed about 6. and Louisiana in 1992. Hurricane winds can uproot trees and tear the roofs off houses. creating the hurricane's strongest winds. These conditions cause the storm to weaken and die out. The scale designates five levels of hurricanes. north. All hurricanes eventually move toward higher latitudes where there is colder air. can produce more than 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain per hour. If conditions are right for a hurricane. typically moving over the sea at speeds of 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 kilometers) per hour. In the Southern Hemisphere. they shift to a more northerly direction. A hurricane in Galveston. and finally northeast. Hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere usually begin by traveling from east to west. Specially equipped airplanes called hurricane hunters investigate budding storms. and finally southeast. south. and greater wind shears.000 to 4. which can be devastating. Florida. Texas. If the eye widens.000 miles (4. A long-lived storm may wander 3. Hurricane Gilbert.A storm achieves hurricane status when its winds exceed 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour. the winds decrease. Heavy rains may cause flooding and mudslides. The speed of the winds in the eyewall is related to the diameter of the eye. Heavy rains may continue. developed by American engineer Herbert S. By the time a storm reaches hurricane intensity. Storm surges are dangerous because many coastal areas are densely populated and lie only a few feet or meters above sea level. Hurricane watchers rate the intensity of storms on a scale called the Saffir-Simpson scale. Saffir and meteorologist Robert H. Category 5 hurricanes have included Hurricane Camille. less moisture.

hurricane watch advises an area that there is a good possibility of a hurricane within 36 hours. If a hurricane watch is issued for your location, check the radio or television often for official bulletins. A hurricane warning means that an area is in danger of being struck by a hurricane in 24 hours or less. Keep your radio tuned to a news station after a hurricane warning. If local authorities recommend evacuation, move quickly to a safe area or a designated hurricane shelter. Iceberg Icebergs form where chunks of ice break away from a glacier as it flows into the sea. The sun and wind melt the top of an iceberg. The bottom, which is under water, melts much more slowly. As the top melts away, leaving the bottom hidden beneath the surface, the iceberg becomes extremely dangerous to ships. Image credit: World Book diagrams by Marion Pahl Icebergs are huge masses of ice that break off the lower end of a glacier and fall into the sea. These masses are are made of frozen fresh water. Fog and icebergs are two of the greatest natural dangers to ships. (See the Life on Earth section for more about icebergs.) Explorers have written vivid descriptions of the color and beauty of icebergs, and compared them to towers, spires, pyramids, cathedrals, and palaces. Large icebergs weigh more than 1 million tons (910,000 metric tons), and some are many miles or kilometers long. The biggest ones tower as much as 400 feet (120 meters) above the surface of the ocean. But this is only a small part of the whole iceberg. Only one-seventh to one-tenth of the iceberg's total mass is above water. The white color of icebergs is caused by tiny, closely spaced gas cavities throughout the ice. When the sun is shining, streams of water form on the slopes of icebergs and drop over their edges in waterfalls. Icebergs often carry away large boulders and quantities of gravel from their glaciers. These are carried for long distances and finally dumped in the sea when the iceberg melts. North Atlantic icebergs come from the island of Greenland. A huge ice sheet covers nearly all of Greenland. It has an area of about 672,000 square miles (1,740,000 square kilometers) and an average thickness of 5,000 feet (1,500 meters). Long tongues of ice extend from the edge of this ice sheet into the sea. Cracks in the ice, and the action of rough sea waves, cause the icebergs to break off from the ice tongues. Noises like great explosions and rolling thunder accompany the beginning of an iceberg as it cracks loose. If the iceberg drops into an enclosed bay, it may cause huge waves. Most of the icebergs in the North Atlantic drift across Baffin Bay and Davis Strait to the coast of Labrador. Some of them are carried by the wind and the Labrador Current through the Newfoundland Banks into the Atlantic Ocean. In this region of the ocean, the icebergs melt rapidly because of the sunshine and warm ocean water. Parts of the icebergs may break off to form bergy bits, which are the size of an average house, or smaller pieces called growlers. Growlers are named for the noise they make as they float in the waves. Icebergs disappear about 400 miles (640 kilometers) south of

Newfoundland. The greatest numbers of icebergs reach the routes of transatlantic liners in April, May, and June. That is why ships crossing the Atlantic follow a more southerly course during these months. Antarctic icebergs Many icebergs drift out to sea from the great Antarctic ice sheets. Some of these icebergs are many times larger than those found in the North Atlantic. The largest one ever seen in the Antarctic region had a length of about 200 miles (320 kilometers) at its longest point and a width of about 60 miles (97 kilometers) at its widest point. It covered about 5,000 square miles (13,000 square kilometers). Icebergs that are 10 miles (16 kilometers) long are common in the Antarctic. In contrast, the largest iceberg measured in the North Atlantic was 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) long. Ice patrols Icebergs can be extremely dangerous to ships. One of the greatest sea disasters in history was the sinking of the Titanic during the night of April 14 and 15, 1912. The Titanic was the largest ship afloat then, and was on its first trip from England to New York. The ship struck an iceberg, and about 1,500 people died. The wreck of the Titanic led to the establishment of an International Ice Patrol along the North Atlantic ship lanes. Since 1914, the patrol has been maintained through a sharing of its expenses by the principal shipping nations of the world. The United States Coast Guard does the actual patrolling. The patrol reports the position of icebergs and estimates their probable courses. Planes, ships, and satellites are used in patrolling. There is little human beings can do to control icebergs. It is difficult to destroy an iceberg by blasting, or to steer it into a different course which would take it out of an ocean shipping lane. It is even difficult to approach an iceberg, because the submerged parts may tear open a ship's bottom.

Two modules of the International Space Station were launched and assembled in 1998 by the United States and Russia. Image credit: NASA

The International Space Station is a large, inhabited Earth satellite that more than 15 nations are building in space. The first part of the station was launched in 1998, and the first full-time crew -- one American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts -- occupied the station in 2000. The International Space Station orbits Earth at an altitude of about 250 miles (400 kilometers). The orbit extends from 52 degrees north latitude to 52 degrees south latitude.

The station will include about eight large cylindrical sections called modules. Each module is being launched from Earth separately, and astronauts and cosmonauts are connecting the sections in space. Eight solar panels will supply more than 100 kilowatts of electric power to the station. The panels are being mounted on a metal framework 360 feet (109 meters) long.

The International Space Station will function as an observatory, laboratory, and workshop. Astronauts and cosmonauts will live and work in cylindrical modules, and solar panels will furnish electric power. Fifteen countries are building the station, shown here as it will look when finished. Image credit: NASA The United States and Russia are providing most of the modules and other equipment. Canada built a mobile robot arm, which was installed in 2001. Other participants include Japan and the member nations of the European Space Agency (ESA). Brazil signed a separate agreement with the United States to provide equipment. In exchange, Brazil will have access to U.S. equipment and permission to send a Brazilian astronaut to the station. More than 80 flights of U.S. space shuttles and Russian rockets will be necessary to complete the International Space Station. The ESA and Japan plan to develop supply vehicles to be launched on the ESA's Ariane 5 and Japan's H-2A booster rockets. The space station was originally scheduled for completion in 2006, but unpredicted expenses have created major delays. Missions The crew and scientists on Earth -- using radio signals -- operate laboratory equipment on the station. Some of the equipment measures the effects of space conditions, such as apparent weightlessness, on biological specimens -- including the crew. Other equipment produces various materials, including protein crystals for medical research. Crystals grown in space have fewer imperfections than those grown on Earth and are therefore easier to analyze. Medical researchers will use results of protein analyses to determine which crystals to mass-produce on Earth. The major value of having a space station is that all the equipment needs to be carried into space only once. Also, the station can be used again and again by visiting astronauts and cosmonauts. Scientists on Earth can analyze experimental results and modify follow-up investigations much more quickly than before. The station has been designed to operate for at least 15 years. But it could last for decades if parts are repaired and replaced as they wear out or are damaged. History The International Space Station is the ninth inhabited space station to orbit Earth. The first such stations, consisting of six models of the Soviet Salyut station and the U.S. Skylab, were launched in the 1970's.

which was wearing out. Major delays occurred in the construction of the International Space Station due to cutbacks in funding by the Russian government. Later that month.-built solar panels into space to supplement the small panels on the Russian modules. a Proton rocket launched the Russian-built Zvezda (Star). known as Expedition One. In October 2000. is a Russian-built module named Zarya -. Unity. Russia took Mir out of orbit and sent it plunging to Earth. United States astronauts served on board the Russian station as researchers for as long as six months.S. with solar panels attached to it. The first two modules of the International Space Station were assembled in December 1998. The module was a Russian-built and United States-funded unit called Zarya or the FGB. Also in 2001. One is connected to Zarya. and others serve as connectors for other modules. Over the next few months. In March 2001. The crew commander was astronaut William Shepherd. But due to funding difficulties. and it was then joined to Zarya. and scientific research began. Behind Unity. Russia took over the operation of Mir.In 1986. and crew members to Mir. The United States had planned to build a station called Freedom in partnership with space agencies in Europe. arrived in a Soyuz in November 2000. based on Soyuz spacecraft. Destiny was activated. the shuttle Discovery carried up several more pieces.S. To prepare for the project. The space shuttle Endeavour carried Unity into orbit in December 1998. was built by the United States. or Service Module. In the foreground is the Unity module. The system enabled them to deliver supplies. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.the Russian word for sunrise. two additional modules -. Canada. Endeavour carried the first four U. The first full-time crew. Zarya means sunrise in Russian. The Soviets developed a reliable. Image credit: NASA The shuttle Atlantis carried the U. and the other members were cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev. Russia had intended to construct a station known as Mir 2 in the 1990's.were added. equipment. In July 2000.S. and Japan.-built Destiny Laboratory Module to the station in February 2001.a U. and FGB stands for functional cargo block. The second module. shuttles flew to Mir from 1995 to 1998. airlock and a Russian airlock and docking port -. economical transportation system. Zvezda has living and working quarters for astronauts and cosmonauts. the United States and Russia agreed in 1993 to build a combined station -the International Space Station. Unity has six hatches. A Russian Proton rocket finally launched the first module in November 1998. for the station. the Soviet Union began operating Mir. which was built by the United States. The PMA provided a docking port for shuttles. Russian cosmonauts handled major breakdowns on the station. Those included a support truss for solar panels and a connecting unit called a Pressurized Mating Adapter (PMA). . the first space station to use a modular design.

purchased the trip for an undisclosed price. Jupiter The layers of dense clouds around Jupiter appear in a photograph of the planet taken by the Voyager 1 space probe. but more slowly than originally planned. When viewed from Earth. more than 11 times that of Earth.984 kilometers). South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth became the second space tourist when he purchased a ride on a Soyuzreplacement mission launched in April 2002. The station's crew was reduced to two people to conserve supplies normally carried to the station by shuttles. The next stages of construction were to expand the station's power and life-support systems to support a full-time crew of six or seven. NASA's partners in Europe and Japan strongly objected to that decision. Ancient astronomers named Jupiter after the king of the Roman gods. Soyuz missions then began carrying crews to and from the station.000 miles (778. To provide emergency return capability for a crew that large. NASA suspended the plan to enlarge the crew and build the escape craft. He trained in Moscow for six months before the flight and spent six days aboard the station.780. NASA planned to build a seven-person escape craft. Image credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. The expansion of the power system continued. The large. Its mean (average) distance from the sun is about 483.after Venus. the station continued to operate with a crew of three. Russian cosmonauts also flew a new Soyuz spacecraft to the station every six months. The spot is believed to be an intense atmospheric disturbance. it became clear that NASA had greatly underestimated the cost of developing and operating the station. the first space tourist traveled as a passenger in a Soyuz-replacement mission. killing all seven crew members. and about one-tenth that of the sun. But during 2001. Other Soyuz missions carried astronauts selected and sponsored by the ESA. Jupiter appears brighter than most stars. 2003. the space shuttle Columbia broke apart on reentry into Earth's atmosphere. more than five times Earth's distance. Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun. The Soyuz would serve as a "bail-out capsule" in case of a life-threatening emergency. Its diameter is 88. NASA halted shuttle flights until it could ensure the safety of future flights. It is usually the second brightest planet -.000 kilometers). Space shuttles replaced the crew every four or five months.In April 2001. On Feb. oval-shaped mark on the clouds is the Great Red Spot. It would take more than 1. an investment consultant from California. In 2002. As a result. NASA's cost for the station was about $5 billion over budget. Dennis Tito. 1. Astronomers have studied Jupiter with telescopes based on Earth and aboard artificial satellites in orbit .846 miles (142.000 Earths to fill up the volume of the giant planet.570.

but 20 or 30 times more massive. or almost 12 Earth years. rather than that of Earth. astronomers believe that the planet consists primarily of hydrogen and helium. solid surface. The strength of the waves varies under the influence of Jupiter's magnetic field in a pattern that repeats every 9 hours 56 minutes. slightly more than the density of water. Its mass (quantity of matter) is 318 times larger than that of Earth. The axis is tilted about 3¡. an imaginary line through its center. acetylene. Because the magnetic field originates in Jupiter's core. The clouds are arranged in light-colored areas called zones and darker regions called belts that circle the planet parallel to the equator. Jupiter's mix of chemical elements resembles that of the sun. phosphine. As Jupiter orbits the sun. on the other hand. Mass and density Jupiter is heavier than any other planet. and tiny amounts of methane. Scientists cannot measure the rotation of the interior of the giant planet directly. The density of Jupiter is about 1/4 that of Earth. germanium. Astronomers witnessed a spectacular event in July 1994. Jupiter sends out radio waves strong enough to be picked up by radio telescopes on Earth. The core may be of about the same chemical composition as Earth. an object that weighs 100 pounds on Earth would weigh as much as 240 pounds on Jupiter. Although Jupiter has a large mass. if any. and carbon monoxide. ethane. Thus. Its density averages 1. Because of Jupiter's low density. It takes 9 hours 56 minutes to spin around once on its axis. Orbit and rotation Jupiter travels around the sun in a slightly elliptical (oval-shaped) orbit. The planet completes one orbit in 4. the planet rotates on its axis. The force of gravity at the surface of Jupiter is up to 2. the planet's surface is composed of dense red. Scientists now measure these waves to calculate Jupiter's rotational speed. In addition. some scattering debris over areas larger than the diameter of Earth. Scientists measure tilt relative to a line at a right angle to the orbital plane. the United States has sent six space probes (crewless exploratory craft) to Jupiter. this variation shows how fast the plant's interior spins. yellow. They first calculated the speed using an average of the speeds of the visible clouds that move with interior currents. Physical features of Jupiter Jupiter is a giant ball of gas and liquid with little. Instead. 14 percent helium.around Earth. an imaginary surface touching all points of the orbit. ammonia. Jupiter may have a core made up of heavy elements.33 grams per cubic centimeter. compared with 24 hours for Earth. The atmosphere of Jupiter is composed of about 86 percent hydrogen.333 Earth days. water. the lightest elements. and white clouds. Earth. . it has a relatively low density. brown. The impacts caused tremendous explosions. except for a more rapid zone near the equator. when 21 fragments of a comet named Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter's atmosphere. The planet's diameter is about 7 percent larger at the equator than at the poles. Jupiter's rapid rotation makes it bulge at the equator and flatten at the poles. Jupiter rotates faster than any other planet. is made up chiefly of metals and rock.4 times stronger than on Earth. so they have calculated the speed from indirect measurements.

The edge of the Great Red Spot circulates at a speed of about 225 miles (360 kilometers) per hour. and the Great Red Spot are much more stable than similar circulation systems on Earth. Near the planet's center. The core temperature may be about 43. there are blue clouds. Darker."room temperature" -. At the lowest levels that can be seen. lower clouds of other chemicals occur in the belts. Rarely. none have been discovered at any level. The highest white clouds in the zones are made of crystals of frozen ammonia. the life form would reside at this level. These chemicals have formed colorful layers of clouds at different heights. The color of the spot usually varies from brick-red to slightly brown. Its color may be due to small amounts of sulfur and phosphorus in the ammonia crystals. and all the other bodies in the solar system formed from a spinning cloud of gas and dust. The widest diameter of the spot is about three times that of Earth. Jupiter is still losing the heat produced when it became a planet. The temperature reaches 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) -. rather than on their total mass. belts. the features have changed size and brightness but have kept the same patterns. a swirling mass of gas resembling a hurricane. The spot remains at the same distance from the equator but drifts slowly east and west.hotter than the surface of the sun.000 degrees F (24. Most astronomers believe that the sun.The percentage of hydrogen is based on the number of hydrogen molecules in the atmosphere. The zones. it is about three times the diameter of the Earth. because there is no solid surface at this location on Jupiter.000 degrees C) -. At its widest. Scientists speculate that if Jupiter has any form of life. the planets. the spot fades entirely. Since astronomers began to use telescopes to observe these features in the late 1600's. Scientists have calculated these amounts from measurements taken with telescopes and other instruments on Earth and aboard spacecraft. Image credit: NASA Jupiter's most outstanding surface feature is the Great Red a level where the atmospheric pressure is about 10 times as great as it is on Earth. Temperature The temperature at the top of Jupiter's clouds is about -230 degrees F (-145 degrees C). However. The planet Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a huge mass of swirling gas. the temperature is much higher. The gravitation of the gas and dust particles packed them together into dense clouds and solid chunks . Such life would need to be airborne. Scientists have discovered no evidence for life on Jupiter. Measurements made by ground instruments and spacecraft show that Jupiter's temperature increases with depth below the clouds. Astronomers had expected to detect water clouds about 44 miles (70 kilometers) below the ammonia clouds.

often called a magnetotail. and Callisto.6 billion years ago. in order of their distance from Jupiter. Scientists do not fully understand how planets produce magnetic fields. however. Jupiter's magnetic field acts as a shield. Continuous radiation comes from Jupiter's surface as well as from high-energy particles in the radiation belts. are Io. On the side of the planet away from the sun. It also has many smaller satellites. Radio waves given off by Jupiter reach radio telescopes on Earth in two forms -. Jupiter's magnetic field is the strongest in the solar system. Callisto. passes through certain regions in the planet's magnetic field. Europa. a continuous flow of charged particles from the sun. and other electrically charged particles in radiation belts around the planet. Jupiter acts like a giant magnet. the magnetosphere stretches out into an enormous magnetic tail. Jupiter's magnetic field is about 14 times as strong as Earth's. Jupiter's four largest satellites. Most of these particles are electrons and protons traveling at a speed of about 310 miles (500 kilometers) per second. a moon of Jupiter. the material had squeezed together to form the various bodies in the solar system. Image credit: NASA Satellites Jupiter has 16 satellites that measure at least 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter. The Italian astronomer . The field protects the planet from the solar wind. Within a region of space called the magnetosphere. Magnetic field Like Earth and many other planets. The particles are so powerful that they can damage instruments aboard spacecraft operating near the planet. Beneath the surface may be an ocean of salty liquid water.of material. Jupiter's field would be so much stronger than Earth's because of Jupiter's greater size and faster rotation. that the movement of electrically charged particles in the interior of planets generates the fields. So much heat was produced when Jupiter formed that the planet still radiates about twice as much heat into space as it receives from sunlight. The trapped particles enter the magnetosphere near the poles of the magnetic field. Strong bursts occur when Io. the closest of Jupiter's four large moons. Jupiter's magnetic field traps electrons. The field traps the charged particles in the radiation belts. except for fields associated with sunspots and other small regions on the sun's surface. The compression of material produced heat. Ganymede. protons. according to measurements made by spacecraft.bursts of radio energy and continuous radiation. is covered with craters produced when asteroids and comets struck its icy surface. These four moons are called the Galilean satellites. that is at least 435 million miles (700 million kilometers) long. They suspect. The force of its magnetism extends far into space in a region surrounding the planet called its magnetic field. By about 4.

Callisto. and David H. Potato-shaped Amalthea is about 163 miles (262 kilometers) in its long dimension. Himalia is 106 miles (170 kilometers) in diameter.Galileo discovered them in 1610 with one of the earliest telescopes.268 kilometers). The cracks are due to expansion and contraction of the surface. Io has many active volcanoes. later named Shoemaker-Levy 9. Levy discovered a comet near Jupiter. with a diameter of 1. The comet probably had broken apart when it passed close to Jupiter. Image credit: NASA Jupiter's remaining satellites are much smaller than the Galilean moons.400 kilometers) wide. It circles the planet inside the orbit of Amalthea. The two satellites have many craters. has craters and cracks on its surface. but had been pulled by Jupiter's gravity into an orbit around the planet. Jupiter's rings appear to consist mostly of fine dust particles. which produce gases containing sulfur.273 miles (5. Europa has a smooth. The largest Galilean satellite is Ganymede. cracked. Rings Jupiter has three thin rings around its equator.806 kilometers). a moon of Jupiter.945 miles (3.000 miles (6.130 kilometers). with a diameter of 3. The impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 In March 1993. When the comet was discovered. Ganymede. Europa ranks as the smallest of the Galilean satellites. astronomers Eugene Shoemaker.986 miles (4. . Calculations based on the comet's location and velocity showed that the fragments would crash into Jupiter's atmosphere in July 1994. Ganymede and Callisto appear to consist of ice and some rocky material. Carolyn Shoemaker. Scientists hoped to learn much about the effects of a collision between a planet and a comet. it had broken into 21 pieces. is slightly smaller than Mercury. The yellow-orange surface of Io probably consists largely of solid sulfur that was deposited by the eruptions. Asteroids and comets that hit Ganymede made the craters. The main ring is about 20 miles (30 kilometers) thick and more than 4. probably once orbited the sun independently. Scientists discovered Metis and Adrastea in 1979 by studying pictures that had been taken by the Voyager spacecraft. with a diameter of 2. Ganymede is larger than the planet Mercury. The comet. They are much fainter than the rings of Saturn. Most of the remaining satellites were discovered by astronomers using large telescopes on Earth. Amalthea and Himalia are the next largest. icy surface.

The . and (6) Galileo. 1973. which is in orbit around Earth. Image credit: Hubble Space Telescope Comet Team and NASA Astronomers at all the major telescopes on Earth turned their instruments toward Jupiter at the predicted collision times. and transmitted much more information. 3. some with diameters larger than that of Earth. it might produce a haze that would cool the atmosphere and darken the planet by absorbing sunlight. along with the people and animals that depend on plants. which was within about 150 million miles (240 million kilometers) from Jupiter. The debris gradually spread into a dark haze of fine material that remained suspended for several months in Jupiter's upper atmosphere. Scientists also observed Jupiter with the powerful Hubble Space Telescope. The impacts were directly observable from Galileo.Scars from the crash of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 appear on Jupiter's surface as a series of maroon blotches in this photo. heating. In addition. Pioneer-Saturn flew within 27. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flew past Jupiter in March and July 1979. The fragments fell on the back side of Jupiter as viewed from Earth and the Hubble Space Telescope. Scientists estimate that the largest fragments were about 0. If a similar comet ever collided with Earth.000 miles (43. Pioneer 10 was launched in 1972 and flew within 81. However.5 miles (0. But the rotation of Jupiter carried the impact sites around to the visible side after less than half an hour. damage to certain of the probe's instruments limited its ability to record and send data. If the haze lasted long enough. The impacts caused large explosions. the probe discovered that Jupiter has an enormous magnetosphere. and the remotely controlled space probe Galileo. Astronomers used photographs taken by the Voyagers to make the first detailed maps of the Galilean satellites. The explosions scattered comet debris over large areas. (2) Pioneer-Saturn.3 to 2. the magnetic field. The probe revealed the severe effects of Jupiter's radiation belt on spacecraft. (5) Ulysses. respectively. and rapid expansion of atmospheric gases. (4) Voyager 2. These craft carried more sensitive instruments than did the Pioneers.5 to 4 kilometers) in diameter. Flights to Jupiter The United States has sent six space probes to Jupiter: (1) Pioneer 10. The comet broke into 21 pieces before it hit Jupiter in 1994. Pioneer 10 also reported the amount of hydrogen and helium in the planet's atmosphere.000 miles (130.000 kilometers) of Jupiter in December 1974. and atmospheric temperatures. much of Earth's plant life could die. probably due to the compression.000 kilometers) of Jupiter on Dec. The craft provided close-up photographs of Jupiter's polar regions and data on the Great Red Spot. which was on its way to Jupiter. (3) Voyager 1.

If this interpretation of the evidence is correct. Eventually. had built the probe mainly to study the sun's polar regions. an organization of Western European nations. Later. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. Galileo went into orbit around Jupiter. This color is also similar to the color of rust. and Jupiter is the fifth. water may still lie in cracks and pores in subsurface rock. has clouds in its atmosphere and a deposit of ice at its north pole.Voyagers also revealed sulfur volcanoes on Io. the craft monitored Jupiter's atmosphere and observed the planet's major satellites. Mars is a bright reddish-orange. and mapped flow patterns in the cloud bands. The Romans copied the Greeks in naming the planet for a war god. The probe penetrated deep into the cloud layers and measured the amount of water and other chemicals in the atmosphere. In December 1995. it gathered data indicating that the solar wind has a much greater effect on Jupiter's magnetosphere than earlier measurements had suggested. Galileo began its journey to Jupiter in October 1989. The European Space Agency. Mars has no liquid water on its surface. Like Earth. Scientists used the tremendous gravitational force of Jupiter to put Ulysses into an orbit that would take it over the sun's polar regions. But unlike Earth. Early probes were designed to observe the planet as they flew past it. the craft ran low on fuel. Over the next several years. Scientists have observed Mars through telescopes based on Earth and in space. valleys. mission managers intentionally crashed Galileo into Jupiter's atmosphere to avoid any risk of the craft crashing into and contaminating Jupiter's moon Europa. spacecraft orbited Mars and even landed there. however. It owes its color to iron-rich minerals in its soil. the Greeks called the planet Ares (AIR eez). Mars The planet Mars. Viewed from Earth. The planet is one of Earth's "next-door neighbors" in space. Mars is named for the ancient Roman god of war. the sun. Space probes have carried telescopes and other instruments to Mars. Galileo's mission was extended in 1997 and again in 1999. discovered lightning in Jupiter's clouds. which is composed of iron and oxygen. The evidence includes channels. The craft released an atmospheric probe in July 1995. the probe plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere. In September 2003. like Earth. and the remainder of the solar system.6 billion years old. But no human being has ever set foot on Mars. As Ulysses passed by Jupiter. Ulysses was launched in October 1990 and passed by Jupiter in February 1992. and gullies on the planet's surface. Jupiter. The rustlike color of Mars comes from the large amount of iron in the planet's soil. Mars is about 4. Earth is the third planet from the sun. Galileo's observations of Europa had shown that it might have an ocean below its surface capable of supporting life. A space probe has also discovered . Scientists have found strong evidence that water once flowed on the surface of Mars. The Romans and Greeks associated the planet with war because its color resembles the color of blood. Also in December 1995.

000 kilometers) or as large as about 249.500.300. Image credit: NASA/JPL Mars is so different from Earth mostly because Mars is much farther from the sun and much smaller than Earth.000 miles (206.000 miles (249. The average temperature on Mars is about -80 degrees F (-60 degrees C). which landed on Mars in 1997. a group of researchers has claimed to have found evidence that living things once dwelled on Mars. The average radius (distance from its center to its surface) of Mars is 2. This photo is a combination of four images taken by Mars Pathfinder.000.000 kilometers). Mars rotates on its axis from west to east. The distance between Earth and Mars depends on the positions of the two planets in their orbits. Mars travels around the sun once every 687 Earth days. Above the surface of Mars lies an atmosphere that is about 100 times less dense than the atmosphere of Earth.000 miles (227.107 miles (3.000 kilometers). about half the radius of Earth. The distance from Mars to the sun can be as little as about 128.000 miles (54. The average distance from Mars to the sun is about 141. Characteristics of Mars Orbit and rotation Like the other planets in the solar system. The Earth day of 24 hours is also a solar day. It can be as small as about 33. That evidence consists of certain materials in meteorites found on Earth.920.390 kilometers). most of it near the south pole. This is the length of time that Mars takes to turn around once with respect to the sun.000 kilometers). Mars is much colder than Earth.390.900.000 kilometers) or as much as about 154. Temperatures at the Martian surface vary from as low as about -195 degrees F (-125 degrees C) near the poles during the winter to as much as 70 degrees F (20 degrees C) at midday near the equator.620. In addition. this is the length of the Martian year. Mars travels around the sun in an elliptical (oval) orbit. But the group's interpretation of the evidence has not convinced most scientists.230.620. Tremendous dust storms sometimes rage over the entire planet.860.000 miles (401. The Martian surface has many spectacular features. . But the orbit of Mars is slightly more "stretched out" than the orbits of Earth and most of the other planets. Like Earth. The Martian solar day is 24 hours 39 minutes 35 seconds long. But the Martian atmosphere is dense enough to support a weather system that includes clouds and winds. including a canyon system that is much deeper and much longer than the Grand Canyon in the United States. Earth's highest peak.vast amounts of ice beneath the surface. This distance is roughly 1 1/2 times the distance from Earth to the sun. Mars also has mountains that are much higher than Mount Everest. A sunset on Mars creates a glow due to the presence of tiny dust particles in the atmosphere.

Those instruments would measure tiny movements of the surface. like Earth. density. has seasons. The latter number would be written out as 642 followed by 18 zeroes. And if that person dropped a rock. The obliquity of Mars. Crust Scientists suspect that the average thickness of the Martian crust is about 30 miles (50 kilometers). and scientists would use the measurements to learn what lies beneath. Most of the northern hemisphere lies at a lower elevation than the southern hemisphere. as Earth has: (1) a crust of rock. As a result. Rather. Researchers commonly use this technique to study Earth's interior. like that of Earth. and rotational properties. Earth is about 10 times as massive as Mars. The surface of Mars was sampled for signs of life by the Viking 2 lander in 1976. Image credit: NASA/National Space Science Data Center . This is roughly 70 percent of the density of Earth. gravity.45¡ for Earth. Thus. The cylinder is about 12 inches (30 centimeters) long. A good method of study would be to place a network of motion sensors called seismometers on the surface. the axis is tilted from the perpendicular position. Gravitational force Because Mars is so much smaller and less dense than Earth. and (3) a core made mostly of iron.933 grams per cubic centimeter. called the planet's obliquity.19¡ for Mars. the crust may be thinner in the north than in the south. The cylinder at the right covered the sampling device and was ejected after landing.42 X 1020 metric tons). a person standing on Mars would feel as if his or her weight had decreased by 62 percent. the rock would fall to the surface more slowly than the same rock would fall to Earth. Scientists have four main sources of information on the interior of Mars: (1) calculations involving the planet's mass. The angle of the tilt. Mars's density (mass divided by volume) is about 3.08 X 1020 tons (6. Mass and density Mars has a mass (amount of matter) of 7. and (4) data gathered by orbiting space probes. (2) a mantle of denser rock beneath the crust. Thus.The axis of Mars is not perpendicular to the planet's orbital plane. (2) knowledge of other planets. They think that Mars probably has three main layers. Mars. (3) analysis of Martian meteorites that fall to Earth. compared with 23. is 25. A mechanical sampling arm dug the grooves near the round rock at the lower left. causes the amount of sunlight falling on certain parts of the planet to vary widely during the year. the force due to gravity at the Martian surface is only about 38 percent of that on Earth. an imaginary plane that includes all points in the orbit. Physical features of Mars Scientists do not yet know much about the interior of Mars.

Data from Mars Global Surveyor show that some of the planet's oldest rocks formed in the presence of a strong magnetic field. smoothest places in the solar system. while they are rare on Earth. The most abundant mineral in peridotite is olivine (OL uh veen). Andesite is also a volcanic rock found on Earth. Mars is much less dense than Earth. Thus. Mars may have had a hotter interior and a molten core. The motion occurs due to the rotation of the planet. and magnesium. Motion within a planet's molten core makes the core a magnetic object. and polar ice. Therefore. the average temperature of the Martian mantle may be roughly 2700 degrees F (1500 degrees C). the breakup of the nuclei of atoms of elements such as uranium. Mantle The mantle of Mars is probably similar in composition to Earth's mantle. They may be so smooth because they were built up from deposits of sediment (tiny particles that settle to the bottom of a liquid). The main source of heat inside Mars must be the same as that inside Earth: radioactive decay. The water would have tended to collect in the lowest spots on the planet and thus would have deposited sediments there. fine-grained reddish dust covers almost all the Martian surface. Most of Earth's mantle rock is peridotite (PEHR uh DOH tyt). The lowest of the northern regions are among the flattest. the core of Mars probably is solid. potassium. Most of these areas are in the northern hemisphere. Due to radioactive heating. iron. oxygen. which is made up chiefly of silicon. and thorium. But craters occur throughout the surface of Mars. Some Martian crustal rocks. and sulfur. in the distant past. Basalt is also common in the crusts of Earth and the moon.200 miles (1. In addition. Silica is a compound of silicon and oxygen. There is ample evidence that water once flowed across the Martian surface. The density of Mars gives some indication of the size of the core.500 and 2. canyons. Plains Many regions of Mars consist of flat. Surface features Mars has many of the kinds of surface features that are common on Earth. particularly in the northern hemisphere. volcanoes. A magnetic field is an influence that a magnetic object creates in the region around it. Scientists suspect that the core is solid because Mars does not have a significant magnetic field. These include plains. low-lying plains. Core Mars probably has a core composed of iron. The radius of the Martian core is probably between 900 and 1. which is partially molten (melted). gullies. the radius of Mars's core relative to the overall radius of Mars must be smaller than the radius of Earth's core relative to the overall radius of Earth.000 kilometers). may be a form of andesite. valleys. but it contains more silica than basalt does.Much of the crust is probably composed of a volcanic rock called basalt (buh SAWLT). Canyons . Unlike Earth's core. nickel.

which is close to the width of Australia or the distance from Philadelphia to San Diego. sit atop a broad uplifted region called Tharsis. Ascraeus Mons. The canyons run roughly east-west for about 2. Impact craters are rare on Earth for two reasons: (1) Those that formed early in the planet's history have eroded away.500 miles (4. the planet Mercury. Scientists do not know how recently the last volcano erupted on Mars -. Image credit: NASA/National Space Science Data Center Along the equator lies one of the most striking features on the planet.some minor eruptions may still occur. These range from small. much like the slopes of Hawaiian volcanoes. Large craters can also have central . Mars also has many other types of volcanic landforms. reaching 5 to 6 miles (8 to 10 kilometers) in some places. Both the Martian and Hawaiian volcanoes are shield volcanoes. preventing meteorites that could have formed craters from reaching the planet's surface. steep-sided cones to enormous plains covered in solidified lava. It is about 370 miles (600 kilometers) in diameter. The craters have deep. Scientists believe that the Valles Marineris formed mostly by rifting. The name is Latin for Valleys of Mariner. The depth of the canyons is enormous. in a region that is as much as 370 miles (600 kilometers) wide.000 kilometers) long -. a splitting of the crust due to being stretched.500 miles (4.roughly one-fifth the distance around the planet Mars. a space probe called Mariner 9 discovered the canyons in 1971. and some parts of the canyons have layered sediments. rises 17 miles (27 kilometers) above the surrounding plains.000 kilometers). producing impact craters. Large channels emerge from the eastern end of the canyons. and other objects in the solar systems. Martian craters are similar to craters on Earth's moon. called Arsia Mons. Individual canyons of the Valles Marineris are as much as 60 miles (100 kilometers) wide. bowl-shaped floors and raised rims. Volcanoes Mars has the largest volcanoes in the solar system. Olympus Mons (Latin for Mount Olympus). The tallest one. a system of canyons known as the Valles Marineris. Three other large volcanoes. and Pavonis Mons. Parts of the system are 6 miles (10 kilometers) deep. The channels and sediments indicate that the canyons may once have been partly filled with water. Craters and impact basins Many meteoroids have struck Mars over its history. The canyons merge in the central part of the system.The Valles Marineris system of valleys is about 2. and (2) Earth developed a dense atmosphere. They formed from eruptions of lavas that can flow for long distances before solidifying. All these volcanoes have slopes that rise gradually.

peaks that form when the crater floor rebounds upward after an impact. . In many cases. the water seems to have escaped suddenly from underground. This appearance suggests that the impacting bodies may have encountered water or ice beneath the ground. Planitia is a Latin word that can mean low plain or basin. Scientists believe that the layers consist of mixtures of water ice and dust. Polar deposits The most interesting features in the polar regions of Mars are thick stacks of finely layered deposits of material. Much of the surface of the southern hemisphere is extremely old. especially in the northern hemisphere. These networks look more like river systems on Earth. These channels can be as wide as 60 miles (100 kilometers) and as long as 1. Other regions of Mars have much smaller features called valley networks. The networks are mostly ancient features. suggest to scientists that liquid water may have flowed across the surface of Mars in recent times. The most striking of these features are known as outflow channels. The crater floor is about 5. And not enough time has passed since the eruptions for many new craters to form. The deposits extend from the poles to latitudes of about 80 degrees in both hemispheres. Most of them lie at high latitudes. the number of craters varies dramatically from place to place. Other parts of the surface. The lava from the volcanoes would have covered any craters that existed at the time of the eruptions. Some of the impact craters have unusual-looking deposits of ejecta. apparently as a result of water erosion.5 miles (9 kilometers) lower than the surrounding plain. in an image taken in 2000 by the Mars Global Surveyor. with the main river formed from smaller rivers and streams. They appear to have been carved by enormous floods that rushed across the surface. valleys. Many of the channels do not look like river systems on Earth. Rather. are younger and thus have fewer craters. Mars has a few large impact craters. material thrown out of the craters at impact.000 kilometers).300 kilometers). The crater has a diameter of about 1. Hellas Planitia is also known as the Hellas impact basin. and so has many craters. and gullies occur in many regions of Mars. indicating that they erupted recently.200 miles (2. those Martian channels arise fully formed from low-lying areas. Martian valley networks are up to a few miles or kilometers wide and up to a few hundred miles or kilometers long. On Mars.400 miles (2. Channels in a Martian crater. Image credit: NASA Channels. The gullies are smaller still. They suggest that the Martian climate may once have been warm enough to enable water to exist as a liquid. They may be a result of a leakage of a small amount of ground water to the surface within the past few million years. These deposits resemble mudflows that have solidified. Some volcanoes have few craters. The largest is Hellas Planitia in the southern hemisphere.

This is roughly 0. thin clouds made up of particles of frozen CO2 can form at high altitudes. In the lowest few miles or kilometers of the atmosphere. 1. Pressure At the surface of Mars. 0. The dust absorbs sunlight and then transfers much of the resulting heat to the atmospheric gases. It can reach -150 degrees F (-100 degrees C) late at night. clouds. the atmospheric pressure due to CO2 gas decreases sharply. At those altitudes. In the deepest part of the winter. The frost consists of solid carbon dioxide (CO2) -. At that time. the frost extends from the poles to latitudes as low as 45 degrees -. Each winter. even near the equator. carbon monoxide (CO). Temperature The atmosphere of Mars is coldest at high altitudes.7 percent of the atmospheric pressure at Earth's surface. haze. Past climate changes could have affected the rate at which the atmosphere deposited dust and ice into layers.halfway to the equator.also known as "dry ice" -. In addition.03 percent. The layers and overlying caps are several miles or kilometers thick. The seasonal caps are clearly visible through Earth-based telescopes.The atmosphere probably deposited the layers over long periods. . and water vapor is therefore most likely to condense.7 percent. The O2 content of the Martian atmosphere is only 0. where daytime temperatures of -20 to -40 degrees F (-30 to -40 degrees C) are typical. Clouds In the Martian atmosphere.6 percent. This variation alters the amount of sunlight falling on different parts of Mars. 0. One possible cause of climate changes is variation in the planet's obliquity. from about 40 to 78 miles (65 to 125 kilometers) above the surface. may change the climate. and water vapor (H2O). Lying atop much of the layered deposits in both hemispheres are caps of water ice that remain frozen all year. The layers may provide evidence of seasonal weather activity and long-term changes in the Martian climate. Atmospheric temperatures can be warmer than normal when the atmosphere contains much dust. typical temperatures are below -200 degrees F (-130 degrees C). in turn. The opposite process occurs each summer. the atmospheric pressure varies as the weather changes during the day. In the wintertime. additional seasonal caps form from layers of frost.13 percent. Other gases include nitrogen (N2). much as on Earth. the temperature varies widely during the day.that has condensed from CO2 gas in the atmosphere.10 pound per square inch (0. Carbon dioxide makes up 95.3 percent of the gas in the atmosphere of Mars. When this happens. 2. compared with 21 percent in Earth's atmosphere.07 percent. Atmosphere The atmosphere of Mars contains much less oxygen (O2) than that of Earth. and fog composed of particles of water ice are common. the condensation of CO2 at the poles removes much gas from the atmosphere.7 kilopascal). In addition. the atmospheric pressure at the surface there varies by 20 to 30 percent. temperatures are the lowest. argon (Ar). When the seasons change on Mars. The temperature increases toward the surface. Haze and fog are especially frequent in the early morning. The variation in sunlight. the atmospheric pressure is typically only about 0.

The two satellites have many craters that formed when meteoroids struck them. a wind pattern that occurs over the entire planet. swirling winds can lift dust off the surface for brief intervals. The warm air then travels toward the cooler regions at higher latitudes. has a general circulation. Such storms occurred in 1971 and 2001. dust storms can blanket areas from more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) to a few thousand miles or kilometers across. The dust then absorbs sunlight. On Mars. Storms of that size are unusual. The largest storms can cover the entire surface of Mars.Wind The Martian atmosphere. However. These may be cracks that developed when an impact created the satellite's largest crater. and the resulting gas flows away from the poles. When spring arrives. the gusts exert much less force than do equally fast winds on Earth. At larger scales. lifting still more dust. They may have come into existence in orbit around Mars at the same time the planet formed. At low latitudes. At the higher latitudes. the cooler air sinks. The largest diameter of Phobos is about 17 miles (27 kilometers). Large dust storms begin when wind lifts dust into the atmosphere. The sun heats the atmosphere more at low latitudes than at high latitudes. Surface winds on Mars are mostly gentle. that of Deimos. More storms occur then because that is when the sun heats the atmosphere the most. The strongest storms can block almost the entire surface from view. Scientists do not know where Phobos and Deimos formed. Both satellites are irregularly shaped. then travels toward the equator. and cooler air flows in along the surface to take its place. As the warmed air rises. Small. These winds create dust devils. The winds of Mars have less force because of the lower density of the Martian atmosphere. but they can last for months. the warm air rises. like that of Earth. the storm becomes stronger. The gravitational force of Mars then pulled them into orbit around the planet. When winter begins. The surface of Phobos also has a complicated pattern of grooves. CO2 frost evaporates. Dust storms are most common when Mars is closest to the Sun. Global-scale winds occur on Mars as a result of the same process that produces such winds on Earth. warming the air around it. and more CO2 flows toward the poles to take its place. Dust storms Some of the most spectacular weather occurs on Mars when dust blows in the wind. The . Scientists have studied the global wind patterns of Mars by observing the motions of clouds and changes in the appearance of wind-blown dust and sand on the surface. more winds occur. Another possibility is that the satellites formed as asteroids near Mars. Scientists have observed wind gusts as high as 55 miles (90 kilometers) per hour. atmospheric CO2 condenses at the poles. the condensation and evaporation of CO2 at the poles influence the general circulation. with typical speeds of about 6 miles (10 kilometers) per hour. The American astronomer Asaph Hall discovered them in 1877 and named them for the sons of Ares. As a result. tiny storms that look like tornadoes. Phobos and Deimos. Satellites Mars has two tiny moons. about 9 miles (15 kilometers).

ranging from small meteoroids to large asteroids. they would need to know the ages of rocks of surface features representing those stages. The greater the number of craters in a region.color of both satellites is a dark gray that is similar to the color of some kinds of asteroids. In addition. which is characterized by a low rate of cratering. Most of the largest outflow channels on the planet are of Hesperian age. a vast highland in the southern hemisphere. The Noachian was also a time of great volcanic activity. hydrogen. a tremendous number of rocky objects of all sizes. and (3) the Amazonian. The youngest geologic materials on Mars. This period is named for Hesperia Planum. The period is named for Amazonis Planitia. including the ice deposits at the poles. and (3) liquid water. During the Hesperian Period. Scientists have divided the "lifetime" of Mars into three periods. the periods are: (1) The Noachian (noh AY kee uhn).6 billion years ago. Researchers have ranked the relative ages of surface regions according to the number of impact craters observed. continues to this day. marking the beginning of the Hesperian Period. Each period is named for a surface region that was created during that period. the older the surface there. The Noachian Period is named for Noachis Terra. water erosion probably carved the many small valley networks that mark Mars's surface during the Noachian Period. . The Hesperian Period The intense meteoroid and asteroid bombardment of the Noachian Period gradually tapered off. During the Noachian Period. The impact of those objects created craters of all sizes. and locations of those features. However. struck Mars. The Amazonian Period. Possibility of life Mars might once have harbored life. and nitrogen that form the building blocks of living things. Researchers have developed an evolutionary scenario that accounts for the sizes. Mars almost certainly has three ingredients that scientists believe are necessary for life: (1) chemical elements such as carbon. scientists have not yet determined exactly when the various evolutionary stages occurred. Features that formed at various stages of the planet's evolution still exist on different parts of the surface. oxygen. (2) the Hesperian. The presence of those valleys suggests that the climate may have been warmer during the Noachian Period than it is today. But no space probe has ever brought Martian rocks to Earth. To do that. volcanic activity continued. a high plain in the lower latitudes of the southern hemisphere. (2) a source of energy that living organisms can use. Volcanic activity has occurred throughout the Amazonian Period. Volcanic eruptions covered over Noachian craters in many parts of Mars. From the earliest to the most recent. a low plain that is in the lower latitudes of the northern hemisphere. and living things might exist there even today. They could determine how old such rocks are if they could analyze samples of them in a laboratory. and some of the largest volcanoes on Mars are of Amazonian age. Evolution of Mars Scientists know generally how Mars evolved after it formed about 4. shapes. Their knowledge comes from studies of craters and other surface features. are also Amazonian.

its smaller valleys. kept liquid by Mars's internal heat. who referred to the features as canals. In the late 1800's. Image credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center In 1996. On Earth. internal heat supports life in the deep ocean and in cracks in the crust. They also found light and dark markings that change their shape and location. there are vast quantities of ice within about 3 feet (1 meter) of the surface near the south pole and perhaps near the north pole. however. scientists led by David S. They discovered this evidence inside a meteorite that had made its way to Earth. The scientists' conclusions are controversial. The meteorite had been blasted from the surface of Mars. early astronomers discovered polar caps that grow and shrink with the seasons. There is no general scientific agreement that Mars has ever harbored life. water apparently has existed near the surface over much of the planet's history. and its young gullies. and tiny structures that resemble fossilized microbes. History of Mars study Observation from Earth Observing Mars through Earth-based telescopes. He called these lines canali. the observers had misinterpreted dark. reported that scientists there had found evidence of microscopic Martian life. Schiaparelli reported that he saw a network of fine dark lines.The essential chemical elements likely were present throughout the planet's history. However. The trip may have taken millions of years. the Italian astronomer Giovanni V. In some cases. almost certainly by the impact of a much larger meteorite. but a second source of energy could be the heat inside Mars. A curved. Many other astronomers also reported seeing such features. McKay. Thus. attracted by Earth's gravity. there was no relationship between "canals" and real features. Sunlight could be the energy source. Lowell speculated that the canals had been built by a Martian civilization. The canals turned out not to exist. Much later. The structure is about 200 billionths of a meter long and is part of a Martian rock that was found on Earth. Among those observers was the American astronomer Percival Lowell. which is Italian for channels. And water is probably present beneath the surface today. . In addition. other scientists suspected correctly that the cause was the Martian winds. But canali was generally mistranslated as canals. In other cases. the changing dark and light markings were real. a geologist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Liquid water apparently carved Mars's large channels. Some scientists thought that the changing patterns might result from the growth and death of vegetation. grains of a mineral called magnetite that can form within some kinds of bacteria. Light and dark materials blow to and fro across the surface. blurry regions that they had actually seen. The small meteorite had then journeyed to Earth. The evidence included complex organic molecules. rodlike structure shown in the center of this photo has been referred to as a fossilized Martian creature by some scientists.

In 1971. People throughout the world watched television pictures of Sojourner doing its work. with craters like those on the moon. The rover rolled down a ramp to the surface. An infrared spectrometer determined the composition of some of the minerals on the surface. It made the first discoveries of the planet's canyons and volcanoes. which was a lander. The rover traveled from Earth aboard the Mars Pathfinder space probe. an orbiter. The orbiters scouted out landing sites for the landers. The next two successful probes were Mars Pathfinder. and measured its elevation. photographed the surface in detail. The main objective of Pathfinder was to demonstrate a new landing system. which touched down in July and September 1976. and then moved from rock to rock. The United States launched both craft in 1996. Inflated air bags cushioned the probe's landing in July 1997. A high-resolution camera revealed a host of new geologic features. and small gullies that appear to have been carved by water. Mariner 9 went into orbit around Mars. The landers took the first close-up pictures of the Martian surface. Image credit: NASA The next major mission to Mars was Viking. The Sojourner Rover examines a rock on Mars. then rolled down a ramp to the surface. The United States launched Mariner 4 to Mars in 1964 and Mariners 6 and 7 in 1969. Pathfinder sent spectacular photos back to Earth. Mars Global Surveyor studied the composition of the Martian surface. The space probe went into orbit around Mars in 1997. and they sampled the soil. It also found what appear to be dry riverbeds.Observation by spacecraft Robotic spacecraft began detailed observation of Mars in the 1960's. Pathfinder also carried a small roving vehicle called Sojourner. They found no strong evidence for life. launched by the United States in 1975. Its main goal was to search for life. The spacecraft observed few of the planet's most interesting features because they happened to fly by only heavily cratered regions. There was no sign of liquid water or life. These include layered sediments that may have been deposited in liquid water. . Sojourner is only 24 3/4 inches (63 centimeters) long. A laser altimeter used laser beams to determine the elevation of the Martian surface. Each flew by Mars about half a year after its launch. Image credit: NASA/JPL Mars Global Surveyor carried a group of sophisticated scientific instruments. Viking consisted of two orbiters and two landers. This instrument produced maps of the entire surface that are accurate to within 1 yard or meter of elevation. and Mars Global Surveyor. and Sojourner analyzed rocks and soil. The craft took pictures showing that Mars is a barren world. This craft mapped about 80 percent of Mars.

In March 2004. The photographs captured many features of the Martian surface. The water ice found in the south is in the upper 3 feet (1 meter) of soil. Thus.400 cubic kilometers). scientists launched three new probes. U.S. The outcropping's surface also bore tiny pits similar to those found on Earth where salt crystals formed in wet rock and later dissolved or eroded away. scientists announced that they had concluded that Meridiani Planum once held large amounts of liquid water. The European Space Agency's Mars Express mission included an orbiter that carried scientific instruments and a lander designed to analyze the planet's soil for evidence of life. circular impact craters and the bright ice of the southern polar cap.500 cubic miles (10. the U. Bell (Cornell U. J. preventing the probe from detecting underlying ice. when the discovery was made. Mars Express went into orbit around the planet and released its lander. In December 2003. Their evidence came from an outcropping of Martian bedrock found in the small crater in which Opportunity landed. Mars was photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope in August 2003 as the planet passed closer to Earth than it had in nearly 60. which contain sulfur and oxygen. to explore different regions of the planet's surface. The total volume of the water ice discovered is roughly 2. The probe cannot detect evidence of water at depths greater than 3 feet. The United States launched two rovers.S. rover Spirit landed safely in an area called Gusev Crater. and to study the radiation near Mars. Mars Express immediately began transmitting pictures and other information about the planet. Scientists also suspect that there are large amounts of water ice north of 60 degrees north latitude. but mission managers could not contact Beagle 2 and feared it was lost. scientists cannot yet determine the total depth or the total volume of all the water ice on Mars. the United States launched the Mars Odyssey probe. nicknamed Spirit and Opportunity.000 years. the probe discovered vast amounts of water ice beneath the surface. In early January 2004. .) and M. Wolff (SSI) Mars passed closer to Earth in August 2003 than it had in nearly 60. On Earth. That soil is more than 50 percent water ice by volume. to determine whether there is water ice on or beneath the surface. Beagle 2. more than enough to fill Lake Michigan twice. south of 60 degrees south latitude. CO2 frost covered most of that area. In 2002. The probe carried instruments to analyze the chemical composition of the Martian surface and the rocks just below the surface.In April 2001. such high concentrations of sulfate salts occur only in rocks that formed in water or were exposed to water for long periods. including dark. The rovers transmitted detailed photographs of Martian ground features and began analyzing rocks and soil for evidence that large amounts of liquid water once existed on the planet's surface. The rover Opportunity landed later that month in an area called Meridiani Planum. Mars Odyssey went into orbit around the planet in October 2001. However. Most of the ice found is in the far southern part of the planet. In that year.000 years. The rover's analysis showed that the rock contained large amounts of sulfate salts. Image credit: NASA.

The rovers continued to explore these sites for several months. Mercury is about 48. Image credit: NASA The rover mission was scheduled to last only 90 days. Mercury moves around the sun faster than any other planet.380. Spirit landed on Mars in early January 2004. Because of Mercury's size and nearness to the brightly shining sun. by the U. Spirit arrived at a group of hills.000. it can be seen low in the eastern sky just before sunrise. The ancient Romans named it Mercury in . the planet is often hard to see from the Earth without a telescope.000 miles (69. The planet is about 28. compared with about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) for Earth.000 kilometers) from the sun at its farthest point. Also in June. The probe was about 130.000.000 miles (46. Image credit: NASA Mercury is the planet nearest the sun.580.000 miles (210. and about 43.000 miles (77.The rover Spirit rests on Mars in a composite image made up of photographs taken by a camera mounted above the rover's body.032 miles (4.820. 1974. Mercury orbits the sun at an average distance of about 36 million miles (58 million kilometers). Opportunity descended into a large crater that mission managers called Endurance and analyzed the layers of bedrock there.879 kilometers). Mercury The planet Mercury was first photographed in detail on March 29. At other times. Orbit Mercury travels around the sun in an elliptical (oval-shaped) orbit. At certain times of the year. Mercury can be seen low in the western sky just after sunset. probe Mariner 10. about twofifths of Earth's diameter. The pole at the lower left is one of the antennas Spirit uses to communicate with NASA controllers. but it was extended because Spirit and Opportunity continued to function well. called Columbia Hills.300.000 kilometers) from Mercury.000 kilometers) from the sun at its closest point. It has a diameter of 3.S. after a drive of over 2 miles (3 kilometers).000 kilometers) from Earth at its closest approach. In June 2004.

it nears the same side of the sun as the Earth. When Mercury is on the same side of the sun as the Earth is.lasts 176 Earth days. As Mercury moves around the sun toward the Earth. Mercury can be seen near the other side of the sun about every 116 days. Like the moon. Until the mid-1960's. steep cliffs. The Earth goes around the sun once every 365 days. radar studies conducted in 1965 showed that the planet rotates once in about 59 days. its dark side faces the Earth. and many deep craters similar to those on the moon. Rotation As Mercury moves around the sun. It looks like a bright. After another 22 days. the same time the planet takes to go around the sun. every 3 to 13 years. and the other side would always be dark. Mercury is covered by a thin layer of minerals called silicates in the form of tiny particles. As a result of the planet's slow rotation on its axis and rapid movement around the sun. As Mercury and the Earth travel around the sun. As a result. Mercury does not always pass directly between the Earth and the sun. less and less of its sunlit area can be seen. After about 36 days.that is. It also has broad. Sometimes Mercury is directly between the Earth and the sun. one side of the planet would always face the sun. Mercury travels about 30 miles (48 kilometers) per second. Mercury can be seen going through "changes" in shape and size. The planet rotates once about every 59 Earth days -. it rotates on its axis. Image credit: NASA Mercury's surface appears to be much like that of the moon. almost all its sunlit area is visible from the Earth. At this point. The planet is usually not visible at this point because Mercury and the Earth orbit the sun at different angles. They result from different parts of Mercury's sunlit side being visible from the Earth at different times. a day on Mercury -.a rotation slower than that of any other planet except Venus. or one year. The craters formed when meteors or . flat plains. and only a thin sunlit area is visible. and resemble those of the moon. When this occurs. It reflects approximately 6 percent of the sunlight it receives. round spot with almost no visible marks. The amount of sunlit area that can be seen increases gradually after Mercury passes in front of the sun and begins moving away from the Earth. the planet is in transit and can be seen as a black spot against the sun. Surface and atmosphere The surface of Mercury consists of cratered terrain and smooth plains. If Mercury did this. about the same as the moon's surface reflects. Phases When viewed through a telescope. the interval between one sunrise and the next -. However. and goes around the sun once every 88 Earth days.honor of the swift messenger of their gods. astronomers believed that Mercury rotated once every 88 Earth days. only half its surface is visible. These apparent changes are called phases. an imaginary line that runs through its center.

like Earth's. Mercury's interior appears to resemble that of the Earth. That is. The sun's rays are approximately seven times as strong on Mercury as they are on the Earth.small comets crashed into the planet. . The Caloris Basin. a portion of Mercury would weigh slightly less than an equal portion of the Earth.300 kilometers) across.7 pounds per square inch (1. Both planets have a rocky layer called a mantle beneath their crust. so the temperature never gets high enough to melt the ice. Scans of Mercury made by Earth-based radar indicate that craters at Mercury's poles contain water ice. An object that weighs 100 pounds on the Earth would weigh only about 38 pounds on Mercury. The plant and animal life of the Earth could not live on Mercury because of the lack of oxygen and the intense heat. and almost airless. Scientists doubt that the planet has any form of life.00000000003 pound per square inch (0. Earth's core makes up about half of its radius.000000000002 kilogram per square centimeter). Density and mass Mercury's density is slightly less than the Earth's (see Density). consists of liquid iron. Stars probably would be visible from the surface during the day. Mercury's largest crater. Based on Mercury's size and mass. measures about 800 miles (1. The floors of the craters are permanently shielded from sunlight. hydrogen. the temperature may drop as low as -275 degrees F (-170 degrees C). The temperature on the planet may reach 840 degrees F (450 degrees C) during the day. The sun also appears about 2 1/2 times as large in Mercury's sky as in the Earth's. But at night. oxygen. and sodium. extremely hot. Mercury is smaller than the Earth and therefore has much less mass (see Mass). The atmospheric pressure on the Earth is about 14. and both planets have an iron core. Mercury's sky is black. Because of the lack of atmosphere.03 kilograms per square centimeter). scientists believe the planet's core makes up about three-fourths of its radius. Mercury is dry. Mercury does not have enough atmosphere to slow down meteoroids and burn them up by friction. The discovery of a magnetic field around Mercury led some scientists to believe that the planet's outer core. Mercury does not have enough gases in its atmosphere to reduce the amount of heat and light it receives from the sun. Mercury's smaller mass makes its force of gravity only about a third as strong as that of the Earth. Mercury is surrounded by an extremely small amount of helium. This envelope of gases is so thin that the greatest possible atmospheric pressure (force exerted by the weight of gases) on Mercury would be about 0.

During those flights. It also detected Mercury's magnetic field. Millions of meteors occur in the earth's atmosphere every day. Thus. A meteor appears when a particle or chunk of metallic or stony matter called a meteoroid enters the earth's atmosphere from outer space. In 2004. was scheduled to make its first visit to Mercury in 2008. then made three passes near Mercury in 1974 and 1975. when meteoroids meet the earth's atmosphere head-on. Most meteors glow for about a second. They become visible between about 40 and 75 miles (65 and 120 kilometers) above the earth. They disintegrate at altitudes of 30 to 60 miles (50 to 95 kilometers). the spacecraft photographed portions of the surface of Mercury. It swept past the planet again on Sept. The probe was then to orbit Mercury for one Earth year while mapping Mercury's surface and studying its composition. Most meteoroids that cause meteors are about the size of a pebble. Meteoroids that reach the earth are called meteorites. launched in 2004. causing it to move faster. 1974. the planet's gravity pulled on the spacecraft. The earth travels at about 18 miles per second (29 kilometers per second). interior structure. Observers often call meteors shooting stars or falling stars because they look like stars falling from the sky. Thus. The probe photographed and made scientific measurements of Venus while traveling to Mercury. the United States launched the Messenger probe to Mercury. The remotely controlled spacecraft flew to within 460 miles (740 kilometers) of Mercury on March 29. As the probe flew near Venus.Flights to Mercury Mariner 10 is the only space probe that has visited the planet Mercury. Meteor showers The earth meets a number of streams (trails) or swarms (clusters) of tiny meteoroids at certain times . Meteor A meteor is a bright streak of light that appears briefly in the sky. Image credit: NASA The United States Mariner 10 became the first and only spacecraft to reach Mercury. the combined speed may reach about 44 miles per second (71 kilometers per second). 1974. and magnetic field. Mariner 10 became the first spacecraft to study two planets. The fastest ones move at about 26 miles per second (42 kilometers per second). and on March 16. Messenger was scheduled to fly by Mercury twice in 2008 and once in 2009 before going into orbit around the planet in 2011. Mariner 10 reached Mercury in less time and by using less fuel than if it had flown directly from the Earth. It flew past Venus in 1974. People sometimes call the brightest meteors fireballs. Meteoroids travel around the sun in a variety of orbits and at various velocities. But some leave a trail that lasts several minutes. 1975. Most meteoroids disintegrate before reaching the earth. The gases include vaporized meteoroid material and atmospheric gases that heat up when the meteoroid passes through the atmosphere. 24. A probe called Messenger. Air friction heats the meteoroid so that it glows and creates a shining trail of gases and melted meteoroid particles.

It was one of the Leonid showers. One group of stony meteorites. such as an asteroid. they produce an impact crater or impact basin. are pieces of the same material from which the planets formed. At such times. the Meteor Crater in Arizona. They have shallow.000 short tons (300. stony. with smaller amounts of iron. The largest known of these is the Chicxulub (CHEEK shoo loob) Basin centered in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. which occur every November and seem to come from the direction of the constellation Leo. Meteorites There are three kinds of meteorites. Streams and swarms have orbits like those of comets and are believed to be fragments of comets. If they are too large. 12-13. the sky seems filled with a shower of sparks. from the metallic core. Most impact craters and basins larger than the Meteor Crater are heavily worn away or have been buried by rocks and dirt as the earth's surface changed. Iron meteorites consist mostly of iron and nickel. they may explode before reaching the earth's surface.275 meters) across and 570 feet (175 meters) deep. Most of them are relatively small. leaving a 20-mile (32-kilometer) area of felled and scorched trees. This was about the time the last dinosaurs became extinct. Rock samples obtained by drilling into the basin indicate that an asteroid struck the earth there about 65 million years ago. Another group of stony meteorites. were once part of a parent body. that was large enough to have melted and separated into an iron-rich core and a stony crust. magnesium. Stony meteorites consist of minerals rich in silicon and oxygen. Impact basins are larger. much larger bodies. stony-iron meteorites. called chondrites. Thousands of small meteorites have been found in Antarctica. The diameter of the basin is about 190 miles (300 kilometers). such as asteroids and comets. Meteorites reach the earth's surface because they are the right size to travel through the atmosphere. However. Scientists study meteorites for clues to the types of material that formed the planets. Many scientists believe this debris caused climate changes that the dinosaurs could not survive. iron. Achondrites come from the outer crust. The impact hurled much debris into the sky. flat floors and uplifted centers. Stony-iron meteorites have nearly equal amounts of silicon-based stone and iron-nickel metal. It formed nearly 50. providing a rich supply of specimens for scientists to study. and inside their rims there are one or more rings on the planet's surface. a farm near Grootfontein.every year. the achondrites. 1833. Moon . The most brilliant meteor shower known took place on Nov. they will disintegrate in the atmosphere. Impact craters and basins When large bodies such as asteroids and comets strike a planet. and other elements. One such object exploded about 6 miles (10 kilometers) above the Tunguska River in Siberia in 1908. Impact craters are bowl-shaped depressions that measure up to about 10 miles (25 kilometers) in diameter. Scientists have found more than 120 impact craters and basins on the earth.180 feet (1. is about 4. It fell at Hoba West. One of the most famous.000 years ago when an iron meteorite weighing 330. from the inner crust. Namibia. The largest meteorite ever found weighs about 66 short tons (60 metric tons). If they are too small. can also strike the earth and become meteorites. and stony-iron. The size of meteorites varies greatly.000 metric tons) struck the earth. and iron meteorites.

4 kilometers). roughly 60 percent of Earth's density.34 grams per cubic centimeter. a person standing on the moon would feel as if his or her weight had decreased by 5/6.35 x 1019 metric tons). The dark zones were partly flooded by lava when volcanoes erupted billions of years ago.737.6 billion years old.897 miles (384. Its mass in metric tons would be written out as 735 followed by 17 zeroes. And if that person dropped a rock.The moon's surface shows striking contrasts of light and dark. In some deep craters near the moon's poles. On the moon. Despite the moon's relatively weak gravitational force. Instead. about 27 percent of the radius of Earth. it has changed little over billions of years. The lava froze to form smooth rock. The moon has no life of any kind. The beam bounces off a laser reflector placed on the moon by astronauts. A person on Earth looking at the moon with the unaided eye can see light and dark areas on the lunar . The average distance from the center of Earth to the center of the moon is 238. the moon is about 4. Like Earth and the rest of the solar system.even during the day -. the temperature is always near -400 degrees F (-240 degrees C).from about -280 degrees F (-173 degrees C) at night to +260 degrees F (+127 degrees C) in the daytime. and returns to Earth.10 x 1019 tons (7. Earth is about 81 times that massive. The moon's density (mass divided by volume) is about 3. the rock would fall to the surface much more slowly than the same rock would fall to Earth. the force due to gravity at the lunar surface is only about 1/6 of that on Earth. The moon has a mass (amount of matter) of 8. Because the moon has less mass than Earth.but extremely slowly. That distance is growing -. The light areas are rugged highlands.6 miles (1. it reflects light from the sun. The moon's average radius (distance from its center to its surface) is 1. The moon is also much less massive than Earth.467 kilometers).8 centimeters) per year. Image credit: World Book diagram by Bensen Studios The temperature at the lunar equator ranges from extremely low to extremely high -.and the stars are always visible. the moon is close enough to Earth to produce tides in Earth's waters.079. Image credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute Moon is Earth's only natural satellite and the only astronomical body other than Earth ever visited by human beings. Compared with Earth. The distance to the moon is measured to an accuracy of 5 centimeters by a laser beam sent from Earth. The moon is much smaller than Earth. the sky is black -. The moon is the brightest object in the night sky but gives off no light of its own. The moon is moving away from Earth at a speed of about 1 1/2 inches (3. Thus.

detected evidence of frozen water at both of the moon's poles. This article discusses Moon (The movements of the moon) (Origin and evolution of the moon) (The exosphere of the moon) (Surface features of the moon) (The interior of the moon) (History of moon study). Since that time. the moon is positioned in line with Earth and the sun. The moon has no substantial atmosphere. The light areas are rugged. During events called eclipses. For example. stands at the right. robot space probes. it rotates on its axis. This "atmosphere" can also be called an exosphere. The largest is the South Pole-Aitken Basin.500 kilometers) in diameter.S. as . That is the period from one sunrise to the next. Armstrong. where the temperature is about -400 degrees F (-240 degrees C).S. The word maria is Latin for seas. The lava then froze. The maria are cratered landscapes that were partly flooded by lava when volcanoes erupted. The movements of the moon The moon moves in a variety of ways. The word terrae is Latin for lands. The term comes from the smoothness of the dark areas and their resemblance to bodies of water. People sometimes refer to those gases as the lunar atmosphere. The moon also orbits Earth. Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on the moon. the U. and Buzz Aldrin. an imaginary line that connects its poles. Luna 3 took the first photographs of that side of the moon. the Soviet Union sent a spacecraft called Luna 3 around the side of the moon that faces away from Earth. meteoroid impacts have created craters in the maria. In 1959. The highlands are the original crust of the moon. asteroids. The first people on the moon were U. Astronaut Neil A. who took this picture. its singular is mare (MAHR ee). Their lunar module. scientists began to explore the moon with robot spacecraft.surface. but small amounts of certain gases are present above the lunar surface. two U. Clementine and Lunar Prospector. Mercury and some asteroids also have an exosphere. Image credit: NASA On July 20. which is 1. Eagle. it has not melted and evaporated. A television camera and a United States flag are in the background. Different amounts of the moon's lighted side become visible in phases because of the moon's orbit around Earth. The ice apparently has lasted in areas that are always in the shadows of crater rims. The ice came from comets that hit the moon over the last 2 billion to 3 billion years. astronauts Neil A. A slight motion called libration enables us to see about 59 percent of the moon's surface at different times. The dark areas on the moon are known as maria (MAHR ee uh). and comets. defined as a tenuous (low-density) zone of particles surrounding an airless body. shattered and fragmented by the impact of meteoroids. Rotation and orbit The moon rotates on its axis once every 29 1/2 days.550 miles (2. Apollo 11 lunar module landed on the moon in the first of six Apollo landings. The word luna is Latin for moon. 1969. Because the ice is in the shade. cratered highlands known as terrae (TEHR ee). forming rock. who is pictured next to a seismograph. In the 1990's. Many craters in the terrae exceed 25 miles (40 kilometers) in diameter.S. In that year.

the dividing line between sunlight and dark. that distance is 225. like the orbit of Earth. a period known as a sidereal month. In addition. The moon does have a dark side -. the moon shows the same hemisphere -. A sidereal month is slightly shorter than a synodic month because. as the moon revolves around Earth.the near side -. an observer on Earth can see more of the sunlit side as the terminator. when the moon is closest to Earth. The tilt of Earth's axis is about 23. Another result of the smallness of the moon's tilt is that certain large peaks near the poles are always in sunlight.5 degrees. After about seven days. moving with the terminator. and so it is known as a lunar day. sunlight reflected from Earth to the moon. moves westward. the distance is 251. When the moon is between the sun and Earth. Astronomers measure axial tilt relative to a line perpendicular to the ecliptic plane. The lunar orbit.particularly near the south pole -. As a result. The distance between the center of Earth and the moon's center varies throughout each orbit. The moon completes one orbit of Earth with respect to the stars about every 27 1/3 days. and (4) last quarter. an imaginary surface through Earth's orbit around the sun. The remaining portion of the moon that faces Earth is faintly visible because of earthshine. This phase is known as the first quarter because it occurs one quarter of the way through the synodic month.the far side -.970 miles (405. an observer on Earth can see the moon appear to change shape. At apogee (AP uh jee). By contrast. Astronomers call this darkened phase a new moon. Earth is revolving around the sun. like that of Earth. it would return to almost the same place in about 29 1/2 days. is shaped like a slightly flattened circle. The moon has four phases: (1) new moon.5 degrees from the perpendicular and accounts for the seasons on Earth. (2) first quarter. the farthest position. its sunlit side is turned away from Earth. (3) full moon. commonly called a half moon. The location of the dark side changes constantly.300 kilometers). People sometimes mistakenly use the term dark side to refer to the far side. The next night after a new moon. Phases As the moon orbits Earth. The moon's axis of rotation. At perigee (PEHR uh jee). The moon's orbit is elliptical (oval-shaped).to Earth at all times. It seems to change from a crescent to a circle and back again. the floors of some craters -.500 kilometers). If the moon started on its orbit from a spot between Earth and the is the hemisphere that is turned away from the always turned away from Earth. About seven days later. A synodic month equals a lunar day. the moon is on the side of Earth opposite the sun. is tilted.seen from the lunar surface. the observer can see half a full moon. The other hemisphere -. The entire sunlit side of the moon is now visible. The shape looks different from one day to the next because the observer sees different parts of the moon's sunlit surface as the moon orbits Earth.are always in shadow. The different appearances are known as the phases of the moon. This . But the tilt of the moon's axis is only about 1. But the moon revolves around Earth once with respect to the sun in about 29 1/2 days. the line between sunlight and dark. The moon needs some extra time to "catch up" with Earth. so the moon has no seasons.740 miles (363. a thin crescent of light appears along the moon's eastern edge. Earth takes only 24 hours for one rotation. a period known as a synodic month. Each night. The moon goes through a complete cycle of phases in a synodic month.

Like the sun. and Earth's shadow falls on the moon. during another part of the orbit. So when the moon is traveling more rapidly than average. This phase is the last quarter. Libration People on Earth can sometimes see a small part of the far side of the moon. the moon is between the sun and Earth. During one part of each lunar orbit. and the moon are in a straight line. it is waning.or almost directly -. the moon rises an average of about 50 minutes later. That part is visible because of lunar libration. it rises with the sun and travels close to the sun across the sky. and (3) libration in latitude. its rotation is too slow to keep all of the near side facing Earth. As the moon orbits Earth. or nearly so.or almost directly -. But in most cases. the moon travels more rapidly than its average speed. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets directly -. it is called crescent. the moon rises in the east and sets in the west. the astronomical bodies are not aligned directly enough to cause an eclipse. Each successive day. a slight rotation of the moon as viewed from Earth. and more and more of it becomes visible. Over time. or third quarter. Libration in longitude occurs because the moon's orbit is elliptical. (2) diurnal (daily) libration. After another seven days. As it changes from full moon to new moon. the observer again sees a half moon. about 59 percent of the lunar surface is visible from Earth. Instead. Earth casts its shadow into space above or below the moon. When the moon appears smaller than a half moon. In the new moon phase. Eclipses occur when Earth. There are three kinds of libration: (1) libration in longitude. it is said to be waxing.between the sun and the moon. As the moon changes from new moon to full moon. and another new moon occurs. and. the sun. The shadows extend into space in that way because the moon's orbit is tilted about 5 degrees relative to Earth's orbit around the sun. its speed varies according to a law discovered in the 1600's by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler. But the moon always rotates about its own axis at the same rate. Diurnal libration enables an observer on Earth to . and the moon's shadow falls on Earth. When the moon is relatively far from Earth. and less and less of it can be seen. When it looks larger than a half moon. the moon travels more slowly than average. it is called gibbous (GIHB uhs). When the moon is relatively close to Earth. Earth is between the sun and the moon. but is not yet a full moon.between the sun and Earth. A solar eclipse can occur only during a new moon. A lunar eclipse occurs when Earth gets directly -. And when the moon is traveling more slowly than average. or the moon casts its shadow into space above or below Earth.phase is called a full moon. it rises and sets at different times. As the moon progresses through its phases. viewers can see more than 50 percent of the moon's surface. the moon is between Earth and the sun. Because of libration. A lunar eclipse can occur only during a full moon. About seven days after a full moon. its rotation is too rapid to keep all of the near side facing Earth.

Thus. Origin and evolution of the moon Scientists believe that the moon formed as a result of a collision known as the Giant Impact or the "Big Whack. While the moon is rising in the east and climbing to its highest point in the sky. then away from Earth. the observer first sees the moon when it rises at the eastern horizon and last sees it when it sets at the western horizon. iron-rich materials sank deep into the moon.900 miles (12. solid bodies. Those materials also cooled and solidified. during each lunar orbit. the layer of rock beneath the crust. As a result of the impact. a cloud of vaporized rock shot off Earth's surface and went into orbit around Earth. The magma ocean slowly cooled and solidified. the observer's viewpoint moves about 7. Image credit: World Book illustration Diurnal libration is caused by a daily change in the position of an observer on Earth relative to the moon.see around one edge of the moon. the moon appears to rotate slightly to the west. As Earth rotates from west to east. then the other. When the lunar north pole is tilted toward Earth. As the crust formed. As the moon descends to the western horizon. Libration in latitude occurs because the moon's axis of rotation is tilted about 6 1/2 degrees relative to a line perpendicular to the moon's orbit around Earth.relative to the moon. When that pole is tilted away from Earth. asteroids bombarded it heavily." According to this idea. Some collisions were so powerful that they almost split the moon into pieces. the observer can see around the western edge of the near side. As it cooled. Consequently. which then gathered together. Consider an observer who is at Earth's equator when the moon is full. people on Earth can see farther than normal along the top of the moon. creating an "ocean" of magma (melted rock).the diameter of Earth -. one of the largest known impact craters in the solar system. during a single night. The cloud cooled and condensed into a ring of small. Earth collided with a planet-sized object 4. people on Earth can see farther than normal along the bottom of the moon. shattering and churning it. As a result. dense. the moon's north pole tilts first toward Earth. forming the moon. During this time.700 kilometers) -. forming the mantle. . the moon melted. The largest impacts may have stripped off the entire crust. The rapid joining together of the small bodies released much energy as heat.6 billion years ago. One such collision created the South Pole-Aitken Basin. the observer can see around the eastern edge of the near side. The libration occurs because Earth's rotation changes the observer's viewpoint by a distance equal to the diameter of Earth.

the pressure of gases at the lunar surface is about 3. along with some neon and argon. but the vapor is continuously replaced. A powdery dust called the regolith overlies much of the surface of the moon.7 x 10-10 pascal). That is a stronger vacuum than laboratories on Earth can usually achieve. the moon also releases some gases from its interior. Because the moon has no atmosphere to burn up meteoroids.that is. Image credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute About 4 billion to 3 billion years ago. Because regolith forms as a result of exposure to space. Those elements are present in tiny amounts -. Regolith overlies all the bedrock on the moon. The most common atoms in the vapor are atoms of sodium and potassium. only an occasional impact by an asteroid or comet has modified the surface. so low in density -. However. it has become much less intense. In addition to vapors produced by impacts. The peaks almost . The solar wind is a continuous flow of gases from the sun -. Small eruptions may have continued until as recently as 1 billion years ago. flat plains known as maria. The resulting magma erupted as dark. Craters Euler Crater has central peaks and slumped walls. The exosphere of the moon The lunar exosphere -. The solar wind continuously sweeps vapor into space. the thicker the regolith that forms on it.only a few hundred atoms of each per cubic centimeter of exosphere.9 x 10-14 pound per square inch (2. melting occurred in the mantle. and broad. the materials surrounding the moon that make up the lunar "atmosphere" -. During the night.mostly hydrogen and helium. probably caused by radioactive elements deep in the moon's interior. The remainder of the gases in the exosphere form on the moon. The lava cooled and solidified into rocks known as basalts (buh SAWLTS). The surface of the moon is covered with bowl-shaped holes called craters. Most gases of the exosphere concentrate about halfway between the equator and the poles. The exosphere is so tenuous -. shallow depressions called basins. Impacts of large objects can create craters.that the rocket exhaust released during each Apollo landing temporarily doubled the total mass of the entire exosphere. melting and vaporizing their surface. A continual "rain" of micrometeoroids heats lunar rocks. the bombardment continues to this day. the longer a rock is exposed. Escaping gases created the holes before the lava solidified into rock.consists mainly of gases that arrive as the solar wind. partly flooding the heavily cratered surface. and they are most plentiful just before sunrise. dusty powder known as the regolith (REHG uh lihth). Since that time.A basalt rock that astronauts brought to Earth from the moon formed from lava that erupted from a lunar volcano. Impacts of micrometeoroids (tiny meteoroids) grind the surface rocks into a fine. iron-rich lava.that is.

For example. is about 17 1/2 miles (28 kilometers) across. a Polish astronomer who realized in the 1500's that the planets move about the sun. Thus.000 kilometers) in diameter -. The material may travel thousands of miles or large as the entire western United States. clumps of loosely joined rocks. The spectacular. Basins are craters that are 190 miles (300 kilometers) or more across. which then rebounds. Small craters with diameters of less than 6 miles (10 kilometers) have relatively simple bowl shapes. irregular secondary craters. The same process that creates wall scalloping is responsible for terraces. .200 miles (2. Copernicus Crater is named for Nicolaus Copernicus. who made many mathematical discoveries in the 200's B. Farther out are patches of debris and. The ground rebounded upward. Craters on the moon are named for famous scientists. Some of them also have inner rings of peaks. The appearance of a ring signals the next major transition in crater shape -. Rays slowly vanish as micrometeoroid bombardment mixes the powder into the upper surface layer. Material in the central peaks of lunar craters may come from depths as great as 12 miles (19 kilometers). in many cases.certainly formed quickly after the impact that produced the crater compressed the ground. like the rings of a dartboard. also known as secondaries. asteroids. The crater walls are slumped because the original walls were too steep to withstand the force of gravity. but the larger ones typically have multiple rings. Slightly larger craters cannot maintain a bowl shape because the crater wall is too steep. The smaller basins have only a single inner ring of peaks. Craters larger than about 120 miles (200 kilometers) across tend to have central mountains. Material falls inward from the wall to the floor. Those craters come in a range of shapes and sizes. Archimedes Crater is named for the Greek mathematician Archimedes. and comets. creating the peaks. Surrounding the craters is rough. the walls become scalloped and the floor becomes flat. called the crater ejecta blanket. The rings are concentric -that is. As a result. Other basins can be more than 1. This material. The impact compresses the ground.from crater to basin.crushed and broken rocks that were ripped out of the crater cavity by shock pressure. Material fell inward. Still larger craters have terraced walls and central peaks. and fine sprays of ground-up rock. Terraces inside the rim descend like stairsteps to the floor. craters that still have visible rays must be among the youngest craters on the moon.000 kilometers) across.C. Crater rays are light. they all have the same center. This material consists of large blocks. and they are often clustered in groups or aligned in rows. forming the peaks. wispy deposits of powder that can extend thousands of miles or kilometers from the crater. in Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains). The central peaks almost certainly form as did the central peaks of impact craters on Earth. in addition to the central peak. Studies of the peaks on Earth show that they result from a deformation of the ground. multiple-ringed basin called the Eastern Sea (Mare Orientale) is almost 600 miles (1. away from the walls. The shape of craters varies with their size. Secondaries form when material thrown out of the primary (original) crater strikes the surface. This crater. mountainous material -. Image credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute The vast majority of the moon's craters are formed by the impact of meteoroids. can extend about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the crater.

The small size of mare features relates to the scale of the processes that formed them -. A lunar rover is parked near the edge of Hadley Rille. In the highlands. enabling lava that was still molten to pile up behind them. However. Scientists formerly thought the rilles might be ancient riverbeds. Scientists can learn about the original crust by studying tiny fragments of breccia. rather than large impacts. the samples have almost no water in their molecular structure. Most basins have little or no fill of basalt. Within Mare Imbrium. detailed photographs show that the rilles are shaped somewhat like channels created by flowing lava on Earth. Many wrinkle ridges are roughly circular. The . Image credit: NASA Rilles are snakelike depressions that wind across many areas of the maria. The scarps are lava flow fronts. Astronaut David R. In addition. aligned with small peaks that stick up through the maria and outlining interior rings. such as rims of craters that existed before the maria formed. One piece of evidence favoring this view is the dryness of rock samples brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts. The ridges are actually broad folds in the rocks. thick layer of shattered and crushed rock known as breccia (BREHCH ee uh). so it is more difficult for molten rock to reach the surface there. created by compression. places where lava solidified. make up about 16 percent of the surface area. the overlying ejecta blankets of the basins make up most of the upper few miles or kilometers of material. Volcanic features Scattered throughout the maria are a variety of other features formed by volcanic eruptions.volcanic eruptions and crustal deformation.for example. Scott is reaching under a seat to get a camera. Maria. the dark areas on the surface of the moon. Landforms on the maria tend to be smaller than those of the highlands. Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) and Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds). Much of this material is a large. Wrinkle ridges are blisterlike humps that wind across the surface of almost all maria. The difference in filling may be related to variations in the thickness of the crust. Circular ridge systems also outline buried features.Basins occur equally on the near side and far side. The far side has a thicker crust. scarps (lines of cliffs) wind their way across the surface. particularly those on the far side. a long channel probably formed by lava 4 billion to 3 billion years ago. This photo was taken during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971. Some maria are named in Latin for weather terms -. Others are named for states of mind. as in Mare Serenitatus (Sea of Serenity) and Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility). they now suspect that the rilles are channels formed by running lava. The slopes in the background are part of a formation called the Swann Hills. The chief landforms on the maria include wrinkle ridges and rilles and other volcanic features.

the radius of Earth's core is about 2. compared with about 6 miles (10 kilometers) for Earth's crust. and origin of the zones on the moon are much different from those on Earth. The core has a radius of only about 250 miles (400 kilometers). broad. Large areas of maria and terrae are covered by dark material known as dark mantle deposits. while dense minerals sank deeper into it. The magmas later made their way to the surface and erupted as the mare lavas and ashes. and more than 50 volcanoes. The bottom of the crust is defined by an abrupt increase in rock density at a depth of about 37 miles (60 kilometers) on the near side and about 50 miles (80 kilometers) on the far side. Crust The average thickness of the lunar crust is about 43 miles (70 kilometers). like Earth. cone-shaped hills formed by explosive volcanic eruptions. Those mantles may be cinder cones -. has three interior zones -. Small hills and domes with pits on top are probably little volcanoes.low. Core Data gathered by Lunar Prospector confirmed that the moon has a core and enabled scientists to estimate its size.500 kilometers). Scientists suspect that the core consists . However. and core. The interior of the moon The moon. Evidence collected by the Apollo missions confirmed that dark mantling is volcanic ash. The source of the heat was probably the decay (breakup) of uranium and other radioactive elements. respectively. This shattered zone gives way to intact material below a depth of about 6 miles. The outermost part of the moon's crust is broken. fractured. Mantle The mantle of the moon consists of dense rocks that are rich in iron and magnesium. One of the largest concentrations of cones on the moon is the Marius Hills complex in Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms). the composition. Much smaller dark mantles are associated with small craters that lie on the fractured floors of large craters.crust.from at least 4 billion years to fewer than 3 billion years ago -. Within this complex are numerous wrinkle ridges and rilles.much less than 1 percent of the volume of the mantle ever remelted. and jumbled as a result of the large impacts it has endured. Later. The data on moonquakes come from scientific equipment set up by Apollo astronauts from 1969 to 1972. Low-density minerals floated to the outer layers of the moon. the mantle partly melted due to a build-up of heat in the deep interior. as on Earth. The mantle formed during the period of global melting. structure.presence of the scarps is one piece of evidence indicating that the maria consist of solidified basaltic lava. This melting produced basaltic magmas -. By contrast. The lunar core has less than 1 percent of the mass of the moon. Both dome-shaped and coneshaped volcanoes cluster together in many places.200 miles (3.earthquakes and moonquakes. Although mare volcanism occurred for more than 1 billion years -. mantle.bodies of molten rock. Most of what scientists know about the interior of Earth and the moon has been learned by studying seismic events -.

that the moon was smooth. partly molten core of the moon cannot generate a global magnetic field. on Earth. In 1645. History of moon study Ancient ideas Some ancient peoples believed that the moon was a rotating bowl of fire. Early observations with telescopes The Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo wrote the first scientific description of the moon based on observations with a telescope. a Greek astronomer who lived in Alexandria. small regions on the lunar surface are magnetic. and that some gas may still be there. In about A. This rapidly rotating molten core is responsible for Earth's magnetic field. If the core of a planet or a satellite is molten. Galileo described a rough. There is evidence that the lunar interior formerly contained gas.D.probably Albategnius -. Ptolemy's views survived for more than 1. Some Greek philosophers believed that the moon was a world much like Earth. said that the moon was Earth's nearest neighbor in space. de Rheita in 1645 correctly depicted the bright ray systems of the craters . the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus had developed the correct view -. They also knew that moonlight is reflected sunlight. much as carbon dioxide comes out of a carbonated beverage when you shake the drink container.mostly of iron. A map drawn by the Bohemian-born Italian astronomer Anton M. A magnetic field is an influence that a magnetic object creates in the region around it. Plutarch even suggested that people lived on the moon. Other astronomers of the 1600's mapped and cataloged every surface feature they could see. and it may also contain large amounts of sulfur and other elements. The presence of high mountains on the moon fascinated Galileo. mountainous surface. In about A. But the small. But philosophers in ancient Greece understood that the moon is a sphere in orbit around Earth. more molten core. The existence of volcanic ash is further evidence of interior gas. S. Earth's core is made mostly of molten iron and nickel. The Greeks also apparently believed that the dark areas of the moon were seas. Increasingly powerful telescopes led to more detailed records. Others thought it was a mirror that reflected Earth's lands and seas. He thought that both the moon and the sun orbited Earth.300 years. and the moon orbits Earth.began 350 years of controversy and debate about the origin of the "holes" on the moon. Ptolemy. In 1609. On Earth. while the bright regions were land. published a map that gave names to the surface features of the moon. Scientists are not sure how these regions acquired magnetism. the Dutch engineer and astronomer Michael Florent van Langren. also known as Langrenus. probably carbon monoxide or gaseous sulfur.Earth and the other planets revolve about the sun. Perhaps the moon once had a larger. This description was quite different from what was commonly believed -. motion within the core caused by the rotation of the planet or satellite makes the core magnetic. Basalt from the moon contains holes called vesicles that are created during a volcanic eruption.D. But by the early 1500's. However. 100. The presence of vesicles in lunar basalt indicates that the deep interior contained gases. 150. Galileo noted that the light regions were rough and hilly and the dark regions were smoother plains. Egypt. mostly its craters. volcanic eruptions are largely driven by gas. His detailed description of a large crater in the central highlands -. gas that is dissolved in magma comes out of solution during an eruption.

In his book The Face of the Moon (1949). had completed a map of the moon. He based his arguments on the large size of some of the craters. because the moon appears to be cold and rigid. the English astronomer Richard A. Baldwin did not say that every lunar feature originated with an impact.that craters are of impact origin. He then stated -correctly -. two Jesuit scholars from Italy. He stated correctly that the maria are solidified flows of basalt lava. Another effort. the astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli and the mathematician and physicist Francesco M. He noted the similarity in form between craters on the moon and bomb craters created during World War II (1939-1945) and concluded that lunar craters form by impact. He studied what happened when he dropped clay balls and shot bullets into clay and sand targets. Baldwin further described lunar evolution. similar to flood lava plateaus on Earth. In 1892. That map established the naming system for lunar features that is still in use. Finally. Gilbert also determined which nearby craters formed before and after that event. few scientists accepted Proctor's proposal. That suggestion was the key to unraveling the history of the moon. Proctor proposed correctly that the craters result from the collision of solid objects with the moon. In addition. Gilbert also noted that lunar craters have only the most general resemblance to calderas (large volcanic craters) on Earth. A crater within the mare formed after the impact. but their structural details do not resemble each other in any way. which he was the first to recognize as huge craters. In the 1950's. Determining the origin of craters Until the late 1800's. he concluded that all circular maria are actually huge impact craters that later filled with lava. Urey had won the 1934 Nobel Prize in chemistry and had . Urey offered a contrasting view of lunar history. But at first. Gilbert was the first to recognize that the circular Mare Imbrium was the site of a gigantic impact. he concluded falsely that the maria are blankets of debris scattered by the impacts that created the basins. Gilbert created small craters experimentally. Those included the basins. but scientists had found dozens of obviously volcanic craters. the American geologist Grove Karl Gilbert argued that most lunar craters were impact craters. For example. However. the American astronomer and physicist Ralph B. By 1651. Most astronomers thought that the moon's craters must be volcanic in origin because no one had yet described a crater on Earth as an impact crater. in the 1870's. independently of Gilbert. Urey said that. Gilbert recognized that the moon is a complex body that was built up by innumerable impacts over a long period. Both lunar craters and calderas are large circular pits. Grimaldi. a crater that is partially covered by ejecta from the Imbrium impact formed before the impact. And he was mistaken in concluding that the moon never melted to any significant extent. by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in 1647. By examining photographs. most astronomers thought that volcanism formed the craters of the moon. the American chemist Harold C. Describing lunar evolution Gilbert suggested that scientists could determine the relative age of surface features by studying the ejecta of the Imbrium impact.Tycho and Copernicus. However. included the moon's libration zones. it has always been so.

when the United States sent the orbiter Clementine. that impact is a fundamental geological process operating on the planets and their satellites. Shoemaker showed that the moon's surface could be studied from a geological perspective by recognizing a sequence of relative ages of rock units near the crater Copernicus on the near side. Luna 24. for example. The ice appeared to be inside craters at the south outstanding scientific reputation. went into orbit around the moon in 2004.S. Astrogeology is the study of celestial objects other than Earth. his support of moon study was a major factor in making the moon an early goal of the U. including five landings. the Soviets sent four Luna robot craft to the moon. Shoemaker founded the Branch of Astrogeology of the U. the U. In 1961. The craft mapped the concentrations of chemical elements in the moon. The orbiter sent radar signals to various target points on the lunar surface. Much of the knowledge gained about the moon also applies to Earth and the other inner planets -. After the Apollo missions. Their ultimate goal was to land people safely on the moon. In preparation for the Apollo missions to the moon. so many people took his views seriously. Geological Survey (USGS). The craft's instruments were designed to investigate the moon's origin and conduct a . and Mars. and other features. craters. A laser device measured the height and depth of mountains. where they were received by large antennas and analyzed. probe Lunar Prospector orbited the moon from January 1998 to July 1999. The United States finally reached that goal in 1969 with the landing of the Apollo 11 lunar module. Radar signals that Clementine bounced off the moon provided evidence of a large deposit of frozen water. in December 1972. returned samples of lunar soil to Earth in August 1976. Image credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute No more spacecraft went to the moon until January 1994. The United States conducted six more Apollo missions. surveyed the moon's magnetic fields. Scientists learned.S. the Soviet Union and the United States sent a series of robot spacecraft to examine the moon in detail. launched by the European Space Agency in 2003. Clementine's four cameras took more than 2 million pictures of the moon.S. Shoemaker also studied the Meteor Crater in Arizona and documented the impact origin of this feature. geologist Eugene M. From February to May of that year.Mercury. Apollo missions Beginning in 1959. The U. Venus. The last of those was Apollo 17.S. the USGS began to map the geology of the moon using telescopes and pictures. The targets reflected some of the signals to Earth. The SMART-1 spacecraft. The last. Recent exploration The Clementine orbiter used radar signals to find evidence of a large deposit of frozen water on the moon. Although some of his ideas were mistaken. Urey strongly favored making the moon a focus of scientific study. and found strong evidence of ice at both poles. This work gave scientists their basic understanding of lunar evolution. space program. Small particles of ice are apparently part of the regolith at the poles. The Apollo missions revolutionized the understanding of the moon.

Astronomers believe some emission nebulae are places where new stars are forming. Neptune . In fact. A diffuse nebula may occur near an extremely hot. it neither emits nor reflects enough light to be visible. looked like hazy patches of light among the stars. bright star. Both types are also called gaseous nebulae. the mass becomes hot enough to shine -. The intense ultraviolet light from the star energizes the gas atoms of the nebula and enables the mass to emit light. most astronomers use the term nebulae only for the clouds of dust and gases in the Milky Way and other galaxies. Astronomers call such a diffuse nebula a dark nebula. In this case. But modern telescopes showed that extragalactic nebulae are actually systems of stars similar to the Milky Way. this type of nebula appears to have a flat. They form when a star begins to collapse and throw off the outer layers of its atmosphere. rounded surface like that of a planet. Nebula The Great Nebula in the constellation Orion is a huge cloud of dust and gas that appears as a misty spot in Orion's sword. denser mass. the ultraviolet light from the star is too weak to make the nebula's gas atoms give off light. If a diffuse nebula occurs in an area that has no nearby stars. Today. Some diffuse nebulae contain enough dust and gases to form as many as 100. its dust particles blot out the light from the stars behind them. the Milky Way. Gravity causes a portion of a nebula's dust and gases to contract into a much smaller. Planetary nebulae are ball-like clouds of dust and gases that surround certain stars. This photo was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. But the dust particles in the diffuse nebula reflect the starlight. Image credit: National Optical Astronomy Observatories A nebula (NEHB yuh luh) is a cloud of dust particles and gases in space. A planetary nebula with an unusual textured appearance. The nebula's bright central area is shown in this photograph. The term nebula comes from the Latin word for cloud.detailed survey of the chemical elements on the lunar surface. When viewed through a small telescope. Such galaxies.000 stars the size of the sun. In time. called extragalactic nebulae. Diffuse nebulae are the larger of the two types.and forms a new star. Astronomers refer to this kind of diffuse nebula as a reflection nebula. They classify these masses into two general types: diffuse nebulae and planetary nebulae. the cause of which is unknown. Early astronomers also used the term for distant galaxies outside the earth's galaxy. Image credit: NASA A diffuse nebula also may occur near a cool star. Pressure and temperature build up within the mass of dust and gases as contraction continues for millions of years. A diffuse nebula of this kind is called an emission nebula.

Neptune spins around once in about 16 hours and 7 minutes. compared with once a year for Earth. though Neptune does not have a solid surface like Earth. Neptune is surrounded by thick layers of clouds in rapid motion. The other object shown is Neptune's moon Triton. and silicates. which lie below the clouds of methane. Winds that carry these clouds may reach speeds up to 700 miles (1. Winds blow these clouds at speeds up to 700 miles (1. The tilt of its axis causes the sun to heat the Neptune's northern and southern halves alternately. As Neptune orbits the sun.775 miles (49. but is not so dense as Earth.060. Deep in the interior. Bright blue clouds that surround the planet Neptune consist mainly of frozen methane. Image credit: NASA/JPL Surface and atmosphere Scientists believe that Neptune is made up chiefly of hydrogen. the main chemical in natural gas -.100 kilometers) per hour.a fuel for heating and cooking on Earth. 1979. But every 248 years Pluto moves inside Neptune's orbit for about a 20-year period.The blue clouds of Neptune are mostly frozen methane. 1999. Its average distance from the sun is about 2. Neptune has 11 satellites (moons) and several rings around it. 11. Silicates are the minerals that make up most of Earth's rocky crust.100 kilometers) per hour. or almost 4 times that of Earth. The clouds farthest from Neptune's surface consist mainly of frozen methane. resulting in seasons and temperature changes. Pluto last crossed Neptune's orbit on Jan. Neptune travels around the sun in an elliptical (oval-shaped) orbit. Neptune's axis is not perpendicular (at an angle of 90 degrees) to the planet's path around the sun. an imaginary line through its center. water. The other is Pluto. . Its interior begins with a region of heavily compressed gases. Image credit: NASA/JPL Neptune is one of the two planets that cannot be seen without a telescope. Scientists believe that Neptune's darker clouds. Thick clouds cover Neptune's surface.793. Neptune goes around the sun once about every 165 Earth years. during which it is closer to the sun than Neptune. It is about 17 times as massive (heavy) as Earth. it spins on its axis.528 kilometers).495. and remained within it until Feb. helium. The axis tilts about 28 degrees from the perpendicular position. these gases blend into a liquid layer that surrounds the planet's central core of rock and ice. Pluto is the only planet farther from the sun than Neptune. 23.000 kilometers). are composed of hydrogen sulfide. Neptune's diameter at the equator is 30. Neptune is about 30 times as far from the sun as is Earth.100 miles (4.

dense arcs. Some volcanoes on Triton remain active. All of these rings are much fainter and darker than the rings of Saturn. the Hubble Space Telescope found that the Great Dark Spot had vanished. Neptune's outer ring is unlike any other planetary ring in the solar system. 39. Triton may once have been a large comet that traveled around the sun. Neptune's gravity probably captured the comet. Adams predicted the planet would be about 1 billion miles (1. began working to find the location of the unknown planet.000 miles (63. which they thought was the most distant planet. the Voyager 2 spacecraft found that Neptune had a dark area made up of violently swirling masses of gas resembling a hurricane.S. Discovery Neptune was discovered by means of mathematics before being seen through a telescope. This area. space probe Voyager 2. Image credit: NASA Neptune has three conspicuous rings and one faint ring. The icy crust of Triton. They appear to consist of particles of dust. Triton. was similar to the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. Adams.In 1989. is about 1. has ridges and valleys that were revealed in photographs taken by the U. In 1843. Scientists do not know why the dust is spread unevenly in the ring.705 kilometers) in diameter and about 220.760 kilometers) from Neptune. The force of gravity of some unknown planet seemed to be influencing Uranus. Image credit: NASA/JPL Satellites and rings Neptune has 11 known satellites. But in 1994. This mixture is now frozen on Triton's surface. called the Great Dark Spot. a young English astronomer and mathematician. was not always in the position they predicted for it. Neptune's largest satellite. Triton has a surface temperature of -390 degrees F (-235 degrees C). Triton has a circular orbit and travels once around Neptune every six days. and it became a satellite of Neptune.681 miles (2. Neptune's largest satellite. Astronomers had noticed that Uranus. At some point. shooting crystals of nitrogen ice as high as 6 miles (10 kilometers) above the moon's surface.6 billion .000 kilometers) from the planet. Scientists have discovered evidence that volcanoes on Triton once spewed a slushy mixture of water and ammonia. It has three curved segments that are brighter and denser than the rest of the ring. John C. It is the only major satellite in the solar system that orbits in a direction opposite to that of its planet. the coldest known temperature in the solar system.440 miles (354. In Neptune's outermost ring. material mysteriously clumps into three bright.

scientists have observed a depletion of the ozone layer over Antarctica. Leverrier.kilometers) farther from the sun than Uranus. Every spring in the Southern Hemisphere since the late 1970's. began working on the project. (6) Saturn. and it can damage rubber and 47. the Astronomer Royal of England. both Adams and Leverrier are credited with the discovery.that is. In order of increasing distance from the sun. He completed his remarkably accurate work in September 1845. Germany.998. (5) Jupiter. Proteus. In August 1989. The planet was named for Neptune. and Thalassa. had just charted the fixed stars in the area where the planet was believed to be. the Roman sea god. Apparently. he lacked confidence in Adams. An ozone molecule has three oxygen atoms and the formula O3. (7) Uranus. Today. (3) Earth. . reactions between such gases as nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons create ozone and other ingredients of a dangerous pollutant called photochemical smog. a young French mathematician unknown to Adams. Galatea. round heavenly body that orbits a star and shines with light reflected from the star. Ozone's relative molecular mass (formerly called molecular weight) -. forming ozone. leading to ozone formation. the director of the observatory. which were similar to those of Adams. Meanwhile. Galle and his assistant. also orbit the sun. 23. Airy. The word ozone comes from a Greek word meaning to smell. reflecting ozone's sharp. and (8) Neptune. to the Urania Observatory in Berlin. Near Earth's surface. Urbain J. The region of decreased ozone is known as the ozone hole. Ozone is related to the oxygen molecules that sustain life. ozone is a pollutant. The German chemist Christian Friedrich Schonbein discovered ozone in 1840. Manufacturers produce ozone by creating electrical discharges in a machine. Eight planets orbit the sun in our solar system. Commercial applications of ozone include the bleaching of pulp in paper mills and the purification of water. Electrical discharges include lightning and sparks from motors. called dwarf planets. Ozone occurs naturally through photochemical reactions and by electrical discharges. Johann G. Naiad. Adams sent it to Sir George B. irritating odor. the Voyager 2 spacecraft provided the first close-up views of Neptune and most of its moons. Larissa. The oxygen atoms combine with other oxygen molecules. The spacecraft also discovered the planet's rings and six of its moons -. In the troposphere (the lowest level of the atmosphere). Such discharges can break up oxygen molecules. (2) Venus. they are: (1) Mercury. found Neptune near the position predicted by Leverrier. Many nearly planet-sized objects. Heinrich L. However. breaking each molecule into two oxygen atoms. its amount of matter compared with that of the most common form of carbon -. By mid-1846. Ozone Ozone (OH zohn) is a gas that is present in small amounts in Earth's atmosphere. d'Arrest. On Sept. astronomers have discovered many planets orbiting other stars. Since 1992. Ozone in the stratosphere (the layer above the troposphere) blocks harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. Pure ozone is a pale blue gas. ultraviolet rays from the sun strike oxygen molecules. In photochemical reactions in the stratosphere. (4) Mars. J. It can harm plant and animal tissues. He sent his predictions. Dwarf planets include Pluto and Ceres. 1846. protecting life on Earth.Despina. Airy did not look for the planet with a telescope. An oxygen molecule has two oxygen atoms and the chemical formula O2. Leverrier also had predicted Neptune's position. Planets A planet is a large. Galle.

Saturn. which is felt as heat. It has so much mass (amount of matter) that its own gravitational pull compacts it into a round shape. rocky worlds. and Neptune—are called gas giants or Jovian (Jupiterlike) planets. They have gaseous atmospheres and no solid surfaces. Pluto was generally considered a planet. dwarf planets. and other bodies. The International Astronomical Union (IAU). Image credit: NASA/Transition Region & Coronal Explorer Traditionally. Saturn. from the Latin word for Earth. the recognized authority in naming heavenly bodies. This image was made by photographing ultraviolet radiation given off by atoms of iron gas that are hotter than 9 million degrees F (5 million degrees C). The outer four planets—Jupiter. terra. Pluto more closely resembles other icy objects found in a region of the outer solar system called the Kuiper belt. Observing the planets . The planets in our solar system can be divided into two groups. However. On its surface.5 to 82 percent of Earth's mass. Earth. Small solar system bodies. including traces of ammonia and methane in their atmospheres. All four Jovian planets consist mainly of hydrogen and helium. Millions of objects orbit the sun—the most basic characteristic of a planet. In the early 2000’s. Uranus. Many planets. (2) dwarf planets. The IAU created the “dwarf planetâ€ classification to describe Pluto and other nearly planet-sized objects. A dwarf planet also orbits the sun and is large enough to be round. In addition. it does not have a strong enough gravitational pull to clear the region of its orbit. a planet has a strong enough gravitational pull to sweep the region of its orbit relatively free of other objects. They range from 3. Earth is the largest terrestrial planet. the term planet has had no formal definition in astronomy. and (3) small solar system bodies. They are called the terrestrial (earthlike) planets. astronomers found several such Kuiper belt objects (KBO’s) comparable in size to Pluto. The other Earthlike planets have from 38 to 95 percent of Earth's diameter and from 5. its small size and irregular orbit led many astronomers to question whether Pluto should be grouped with worlds such as Earth and Jupiter. have too little mass for gravity to round their irregular shapes. asteroids. A planet orbits the sun and no other body. and other bodies have smaller objects orbiting them called satellites or moons. The innermost four planets—Mercury. instead of visible light. Venus. and Mars—are small. Scientists think the source of some of the energy is probably the slow compression of the planets by their own gravity.9 times to 11. magnetic forces create loops and streams of gas that extend tens of thousands of miles or kilometers into space.The sun blazes with energy. Smaller amounts of other materials also occur. However. From its discovery in 1930. Jupiter.2 times Earth's diameter and from 15 times to 318 times Earth's mass. divides objects that orbit the sun into three major classes: (1) planets. But scholars have struggled to devise a simple classification system that distinguishes the smallest worlds from the largest comets. Most of this extra energy takes the form of infrared radiation. and Neptune give off more energy than they receive from the sun. including most asteroids and comets.

In 1543. but stars seem to twinkle. This motion is called prograde. is about 16° wide. Ptolemy thought that retrograde motion was caused by a planet moving on its small circle in an opposite direction from the motion of the small circle around the big circle. As a result. which in turn orbited Earth in larger circles. the planets seem to drift eastward relative to the background stars. the planets look much like the background stars in the night sky. They rise in the east and set in the west each night. 150. Kepler's second law says that an imaginary line joining the parent star to its planet sweeps across equal areas of space in equal amounts of time. In about A. which are much closer. planets. For a while each year. Planets. In the 1600's. Copernicus realized that retrograde motion occurs because Earth moves faster in its orbit than the planets that are farther from the sun. even when viewed through a telescope. Planets and stars also differ in the steadiness of their light when viewed from Earth's surface. However. the planets of the solar system and the stars appear to move around Earth. When a planet is close to its star. Most of the time. if you know where to look. most scientists thought that the moon. and stars actually moved around Earth. This path. In ancient times. To the unaided eye. known as the zodiac.D. The orbital paths of the planets form such curves. with the parent star at one focus of the ellipse. astronomers have since realized that Kepler's laws are valid for all heavenly bodies that orbit other bodies. Orbits Viewed from Earth's surface. One puzzle that ancient scientists struggled to explain was the annual retrograde motion of the planets. Planets shine with a steady light. the planets seem to reverse their direction. the planets move slightly from night to night in relation to the stars. the planets move westward across the sky slightly more slowly than the stars do. If you see a bright object near the ecliptic at night or near sunrise or sunset. These planets can be seen from Earth with a telescope. look like tiny disks through a telescope. the Greek astronomer Ptolemy developed a theory that the planets orbited in small circles. The ellipse is formed by the path of a point moving so that the sum of its distances from the two foci remains the same. Stars are so far away that they are mere points of light in the sky. the German astronomer Johannes Kepler used observations of Mars by the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe to figure out three laws of planetary motion. The planets and the moon follow the same apparent path through the sky. You can even see the brightest planets in the daytime. Our term solar system is based on Copernicus's discovery. the apparent path of the sun. As small regions of the atmosphere move about. Retrograde motion occurs whenever Earth passes an outer planet traveling around the sun or an inner planet passes Earth. enough light always arrives from a sufficient number of points to provide a steady appearance. At its center is the ecliptic. the points of light seem to dance and change in brightness. The atmosphere scatters light from different points on a planet's disk.People have known the inner six planets of our solar system for thousands of years because they are visible from Earth without a telescope. However. An ellipse is a closed curve formed around two fixed points called foci. This backward motion is called retrograde. the sun. The twinkling is due to the moving layers of air that surround Earth. Kepler's first law says that planets move in elliptical (oval-shaped) orbits around their parent star—in our solar system. The outermost three planets—Uranus and Neptune—were discovered by astronomers. Before Kepler. The planets that are closer to the sun move faster in their orbits than Earth travels in its orbit. beginning in the 1780's. sun. The atmosphere bends the starlight passing through it. The name planet comes from a Greek word meaning to wander. it moves relatively rapidly in . it is most likely a planet. scientists had assumed that the planets moved in circular orbits. however. Although Kepler developed his laws for the planets of our solar system. the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus showed that the sun is the center of the orbits of the planets.

The law says that the square of the planet's period—that is. Most astronomers think that some other objects in the solar system must have collided with Uranus. the line sweeps out a long. So astronomers think that the solar system formed out of a cloud of gas and dust that was already spinning. respectively. by the U.its orbit. Because of their different distances from the sun. Kepler's third law says that a planet's period (the time it takes to complete an orbit around its star) depends on its average distance from the star. and mathematician Isaac Newton presented his theory of gravity and explained why Kepler's laws work in a treatise published in 1687. The line therefore sweeps out a short. fat. astronomers can determine the mass of a planet by studying the period of its moon or moons and their distance from the planet. the temperature. probe Mariner 10. and 1. 1. but the planet rotates in the direction opposite from the direction of its revolution around the sun. Its axis is almost completely upright. in about 243 Earth days. and 30 AU. A law of physics holds that such rotation does not change by itself. The planet Mercury was first photographed in detail on March 29. the period multiplied by itself—is proportional to the cube of the planet's average distance from its star—the distance multiplied by itself twice—for all planets in a solar system. Thick clouds of sulfuric . surface features. Image credit: NASA The planets of our solar system Astronomers measure distances within the solar system in astronomical units (AU). One day is defined as how long it takes Earth to rotate once. But the two figures have equal areas. But some regions near the planet's poles may be always in shadow. it moves relatively slowly.4. with their axis of rotation standing upright from their orbital path. thin figure that resembles a triangle. has no moon and almost no atmosphere. respectively. so that its axes lies nearly level with its paths around the sun. was scheduled to fly by Mercury three times before going into orbit around the planet in 2011. the innermost planet. 1974. Venus is tipped all the way over. in only about 10 hours. trianglelike figure. and Venus and tipped them. Mercury. Uranus is tipped on its side. Most planets rotate in the same direction in which they revolve around the sun. The inner planets have orbits whose diameters are 0.S. No spacecraft has visited Mercury since the 1970's.0. Using Newton's explanation. launched in 2004. 20. The Messenger spacecraft. Pluto. One astronomical unit is the average distance between Earth and the sun. In this case. and astronomers speculate that water or ice may remain there. The English scientist. When the planet is farther from its star. however. astronomer. 10. which is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers). and other conditions on the planets vary widely. 0. when Mariner 10 photographed about half the planet's surface at close range. Venus rotates much slower. Rotation Planets rotate at different rates.5 AU. Jupiter and Saturn spin much faster. It orbits so close to the sun that temperatures on its surface can climb as high as 800 degrees F (430 degrees C). The orbits of the gas giants are much larger: 5.7. Newton showed how his expanded version of Kepler's third law could be used to find the mass of the sun or of any other object around which things orbit.

In the 1990's. The atmospheric pressure (pressure exerted by the weight of the gases in the atmosphere) on the Martian surface is less than 1 percent the atmospheric pressure on Earth. though it has no moon. and stream beds that look as if water flowed through them in the past. the Magellan spacecraft used radar -. and continents that rise above sea level. Venus has a dense atmosphere that consists primarily of carbon dioxide. our home planet. a huge system of canyons.acid cover Venus. our home planet. Many measuring devices on the surface and in space monitor conditions on our planet. The planet Mars has clouds in its atmosphere and a deposit of ice at its north pole. The surface of Mars has giant volcanoes. consisting mostly . The pressure of the atmosphere on Venus's surface is 90 times that of Earth's atmosphere. the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the first of a series of satellites called the Earth Observing System (EOS). hot enough to melt lead. has oceans of liquid water. Phobos and Deimos. it has gaseous outer layers and may have a rocky core. A huge storm system called the Great Red Spot in Jupiter's atmosphere is larger than Earth and has raged for hundreds of years. Europa. raising the surface temperature on Venus to about 870 degrees F (465 degrees C). Several spacecraft have orbited or landed on Venus. Image credit: NASA Venus is known as Earth's twin because it resembles Earth in size and mass.are larger than Pluto. In 1998. Jupiter's four largest moons -. the largest planet in our solar system. and Callisto -. Scientists have warned that a similar process on Earth is causing permanent global warming. This trapping of heat is known as the greenhouse effect. Earth has oceans of liquid water and continents that rise above sea level. This low surface pressure has enabled most of the water that Mars may once have had to escape into space.Io. Venus's thick atmosphere traps energy from the sun. Image credit: JPL Jupiter. Mars has two tiny moons. Mars is a cold. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems Mars is known as the red planet because of its reddish-brown appearance. has more mass than the other planets map Venus in detail. and Ganymede is also bigger than Mercury. Circling Jupiter's equator are three thin rings. The layers of dense clouds around Jupiter appear in a photograph of the planet taken by the Voyager 1 space probe. Many spacecraft have landed on or orbited Mars. Like the other Jovian waves bounced off the planet -. Ganymede. caused by rusty dust on the Martian surface. has an atmosphere that is mostly nitrogen with some oxygen. dry world with a thin atmosphere. Earth. The EOS satellites will carry remote-sensing instruments to measure climate changes and other conditions on Earth's surface. Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Earth.

Uranus appears in true colors. The Cassini spacecraft began orbiting Saturn in 2004. Its gaseous atmosphere is not as colorful as Jupiter's. Voyager 2 found that Neptune had a storm system called the Great Dark Spot. Image credit: NASA/JPL Neptune was first observed in 1846 by German astronomer Johann G. in 1994. Galle after other astronomers predicted its position by studying how it affected Uranus's orbit. It carried a small probe that was designed to be dropped into Titan's atmosphere. In 1989. one of which has clumps of matter. Image credit: NASA . Voyager 2 studied Uranus and its rings and moons close-up in 1986. Another reason is that Saturn is farther than Jupiter from the sun. the Voyager 2 spacecraft sent back close-up views of Saturn and its rings and moons. The blue clouds of Neptune are mostly frozen methane. The Dwarf Planets Pluto is so far from Earth that even powerful telescopes reveal little detail of its surface. scientists detected 10 narrow rings around Uranus when the planet moved in front of a star and the rings became visible. Image credit: JPL Uranus was the first planet discovered with a telescope. Galileo orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003. another giant planet. the Galileo spacecraft dropped a probe into Jupiter's atmosphere. One reason Saturn is relatively drab is that its hazy upper atmosphere makes the cloud patterns below difficult to see. similar to Jupiter's Great Red Spot. He at first thought he had discovered a comet. A pair of Voyager spacecraft flew by Jupiter in 1979 and sent back close-up pictures. German-born English astronomer William Herschel found it in 1781.of dust particles. Titan has a thick atmosphere of nitrogen and methane. and false colors. In 1995. Due to the temperature difference. The Hubble Space Telescope gathered the light for the pictures of Pluto shown here. But five years later. has a magnificent set of gleaming rings. In 1980 and 1981. however. the Hubble Space Telescope found that the Great Dark Spot had vanished. Saturn's moon Titan is larger than Pluto and Mercury. left. Saturn is colder than Jupiter. the kinds of chemical reactions that color Jupiter's atmosphere occur too slowly to do the same on Saturn. Almost 200 years later. Neptune's moon Triton is one of the largest in the solar system and has volcanoes that emit plumes of frozen nitrogen. right. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Saturn. The other object shown is Neptune's moon Triton. Neptune has four narrow rings. Saturn is encircled by seven major rings. Because of the difference in distance. in images produced by combining numerous pictures taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft.

Astronomers cannot see planets around distant stars. was designed to observe Pluto during a flyby in 2015. Most of these bodies belong to the Kuiper belt. 2003 UB313 has a small moon about 1â„8 its diameter. measures about half the dwarf planet’s diameter.46 trillion kilometers). Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930.2 light-years away.500 miles (2. One light-year is the distance that light travels in one year -about 5. The American astronomers Michael E. However. Sedna. The first discoveries Astronomers announced the discovery of the first planets around a star other than our sun in 1992.The solar system’s dwarf planets consist primarily of rock and ice and feature little or no atmosphere. Some astronomers have suggested calling the outer dwarf planets plutonians in honor of Pluto. The changes in a star's movement are caused by the slight pull of the planet's gravity on its parent star. which lies beyond the Kuiper belt. The scientists look for places in the rainbow where colors are missing. To find new planets. The New Horizons probe. Thus. measures about three-fourths the size of Pluto and lies nearly three times as far from the sun. compared to 8 light-minutes for the sun. astronomers cannot see planets orbiting other stars directly. measures roughly half the size of Pluto. it takes light 4. The American astronomer Clyde W. The amount of light coming from the star decreases when the planet passes in front of the star. so they tend to be found among populations of similar. The Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi discovered Ceres in 1801. The spectral lines change their location in the rainbow slightly as a star is pulled by the gravity of an orbiting planet toward and away from Earth. Ceres has a rocky composition and resembles a slightly squashed sphere. Rabinowitz announced the discovery of 2003 UB313 in 2005. launched in 2006. Planets in other solar systems Even with the most advanced telescopes. and David L. A body designated 2003 UB313 ranks as the largest dwarf planet. a KBO discovered in 2002. they can detect the planets from tiny changes in the stars' movement and tiny decreases in the amount of light coming from the stars. Astronomers have had difficulty studying bodies in this region because they are extremely far from Earth. Its longest diameter measures 596 miles (960 kilometers). Pulsars are dead stars that have . Pluto’s largest satellite. The changes not only show that a planet is present but also indicate how much mass it has. The planet blocks some of the starlight. Pluto is slightly smaller than 2003 UB313. Trujillo.2 years to reach Earth from the nearest star beyond the sun and only 8 minutes to reach Earth from the sun. astronomers use a technique called spectroscopy. They lack the mass to sweep their orbits clear. which breaks down the light from stars into its component rainbow of colors. These apparent changes in a star's light as the star moves are due to a phenomenon known as the Doppler effect. with a diameter of around 1. Dozens of them probably fit the IAU’s definition of a dwarf planet. At these places. Quaoar «KWAH oh wahr» . Charon. Chadwick A. Pluto was long considered the ninth planet. The nearest star is 4.88 trillion miles (9. discovered in 2004. 2003 UB 313 has a surface that contains methane ice and remains around –406 °F (–243 °C). dark lines known as spectral lines cross the rainbow. The planets shine only by reflected light and are hidden by the brilliance of their parent stars. The star is a pulsar named PSR B1257+12 in the constellation Virgo.400 kilometers). Ceres ranks as the largest of millions of asteroids found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The outer dwarf planets generally lie beyond the orbit of Neptune. people once widely considered Ceres a planet. The planets and their stars are also much farther away than our sun. smaller bodies. Some scientists think Sedna belongs to population of cometlike objects called the Oort cloud. Its surface also features methane ice. Brown. Scientists know of more than 100 stars other than the sun that have planets. As with Pluto. the first one discovered. dimming the star.

like those of the planets in our solar system. Henry measured the star's brightness at the request of Marcy. astronomers theorized that . astronomers announced the first discovery of a multiple-planet system belonging to a sunlike star. Some newly discovered planets follow unusual orbits. American astronomer Gregory W. who had previously used the spectroscopic technique to identify this star as a parent of a planet.collapsed until they are only about 12 miles (20 kilometers) across. The star that Henry observed is known as HD 209458. In 2004. astronomers continued to improve techniques for detecting planets. 51 Pegasi. Henry first detected a dimming of starlight due to the presence of a planet. and only the outer planets. orbits our sun. hroughout the early 2000's. Such close orbits would make their surfaces too hot to support life as we know it. the Polish-born American astronomer Alexander Wolszczan and American Dale A. the inner planets are rocky and small. however. gaseous planets in close orbits. These pulls cause slight variations in the radio pulses. In 2001. sending out radio waves that arrive on Earth as pulses of radio energy. which is 123 light-years away in the constellation Serpens. Astronomers are not yet sure how to classify the object. in the constellation Pegasus. Astronomers soon began to find planets around stars more like the sun. Frail discovered three planets in orbit around PSR B1257+12. these massive planets race around their stars in only a few weeks. and then draws closer to the star than Venus does to our sun. the planet pulls the star to and fro slightly as it orbits. Most planets travel around their stars on nearly circular paths. In 1999. But several newly discovered planets have at least as much mass as Jupiter. not planets. They spin rapidly on their axes. The object is so unusual because of its mass. But brown dwarfs form by means of the same process that forms stars. Although astronomers have found stars with planets in their habitable zones. Some stars have a planet orbiting them at a distance at which living things could exist. therefore. Also in 1999. The newly discovered planets were about the size of Uranus or Neptune. its gravity would disrupt the orbits of the other planets and toss them out of their paths. It is at least 17 times as massive as Jupiter. and it is located in Pegasus. Most scientists consider liquid water essential for life. Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz found the first planet orbiting a sunlike star. They determined that three planets orbit the star Upsilon Andromedae. Despite the planets' huge size. all the planets found so far are probably gaseous with no solid surface. enabling them to discover an increasing variety of planets around other stars. which is 44 light-years from Earth in the constellation Andromeda. that no life could survive on its planets. It travels farther from its star than the planet Mars does from our sun. The star emits such strong X rays. In our own solar system. Paul Butler confirmed the discovery and found planets of their own around other stars. are huge and gassy. Unlike Jupiter. Marcy announced the discovery of a solar system containing an extremely unusual object. In 1995. Astronomers also have been surprised to find that other solar systems have huge. But a planet around the star 16 Cygni B follows an extremely elliptical orbit. it must be close to its parent star. Vogt. But they may have solid moons. must travel around their stars even closer than our innermost planet. the only known heavenly bodies of such mass were dim objects called brown dwarfs. Several of these giant planets. Marcy and R. Some pulsars spin hundreds of times each second. If a pulsar has a planet. Mercury. Before this discovery. astronomers announced the first discoveries of planets much smaller than Jupiter. and American astronomer Steven S. They had not thought that a planet could be as massive as the object is. the largest planet in our solar system. From measurements of these variations. Butler. If a planet in our solar system traveled in such an extreme oval. American astronomers Geoffrey W. so a region that is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water is known as a habitable zone. Kepler's third law says that for a planet to complete its orbit so quickly. however. That object and an ordinary planet orbit the star HD 168443. except for Pluto.

Rocky particles within the disk collided and stuck together.some of them might be rocky planets rather than gas giants. Protoplanetary disks around distant stars were first observed through telescopes in 1983.000 miles (5.240. many astronomers questioned whether Pluto should be grouped with worlds like Earth and Jupiter. rotating cloud of gas and dust called the solar nebula. Hot gases and electrically charged particles flow from our sun constantly. the recognized authority in naming heavenly objects. The early solar wind drove the light elements -.660. and the solar wind was weaker there. The material accumulated into a dense. because of its small size and irregular orbit. So these outer planets kept most of their light elements and wound up with much more mass than Earth. It stays inside Neptune's orbit for about 20 Earth years.away from the inner planets like Earth. Pluto is so far from Earth that even powerful telescopes reveal little detail of its surface. rocky planets close to the sun and big. At the distances of the outer planets. Now that astronomers have learned something about other solar systems. The remaining gas and dust flattened into a disk called a protoplanetary disk swirling around the sun. Gravity pulled together a portion of gas and dust at the center of the nebula that was denser than the rest. Pluto cannot be seen without a telescope. is a dwarf planet that orbits far from the sun.647. (PLOO toh). In 2006. But the stronger gravity of the giant outer planets held on to more of the planets' hydrogen and helium. Pluto seemed to share more similarities with KBO’s. Pluto travels around the sun in an elliptical (ovalshaped) orbit. Its average distance from the sun is about 3. creating huge balls of frozen gas that formed the Jovian planets. The solar wind was stronger at first than it is today. This event occurs every 248 Earth years. Pluto Pluto. It shares the region of its orbit. gases froze into ice. it comes closer to the sun than Neptune. to formally classify Pluto as a dwarf planet. From its discovery in 1930. people widely considered Pluto to be the ninth planet of our solar system. spinning clump that formed our sun. they have devised new theories.6 billion years ago from a giant.869. How the planets formed Astronomers have developed a theory about how our solar system formed that explains why it has small. Astronomers believe our solar system formed about 4. gaseous ones farther away.000 kilometers). forming a stream called the solar wind.hydrogen and helium -. which . the outermost planet. forming bodies called planetesimals. with a collection of similar icy bodies called Kuiper belt objects (KBO’s). However. known as the Kuiper belt. this debate led the International Astronomical Union. Some scientists have suggested that the giant planets in other solar systems may have formed far from their parent stars and later moved in closer. Astronomers developed these theories when they thought that rocky planets always orbited close to the parent star and giant planets farther out. But the "rule" was based only on our own solar system. Planetesimals later combined to form the planets. Image credit: NASA Pluto is about 39 times as far from the sun as Earth is. At some point in its orbit. The Hubble Space Telescope gathered the light for the pictures of Pluto shown here.

He died in 1916 without finding it. In 2006. For example. found that the force of gravity of some unknown object seemed to be affecting the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. which include polar caps. In 1978. They named it Charon. and remained there until Feb. In 2005. They are two of the "foundation blocks" upon which modern physics is built. show about 12 large bright or dark areas. Pluto entered Neptune's orbit on Jan. Pluto's surface is one of the coldest places in our solar system. are probably frozen nitrogen. Astronomers believe the temperature on Pluto may be about –375 °F (–225 °C). used predictions made by Lowell and other astronomers and photographed the sky with a more powerful. whose initials are the first two letters of Pluto. Einstein's theories explain the behavior of matter. Scientists doubt Pluto has any form of life. This satellite has a diameter of about 750 miles (1. astronomers at the U. a team of astronomers studying images from the Hubble Space Telescope discovered two previously unknown moons of Pluto. Naval Observatory substation in Flagstaff detected a satellite of Pluto. less than a fifth that of Earth. 11. had diameters of up to 100 miles (160 kilometers) and lay well outside the orbit of Charon. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the New Horizons probe.400 miles (2. The probe was expected to fly by Pluto in 2015. 1979. The dark areas may be methane frost that has been broken down chemically by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In 1929. yet seem to another observer to run at a different about the same number of Earth years it takes Pluto to travel once around the sun. The planet was named after the Roman god of the dead. and even time and space. Two observers can measure the length of the same rod correctly but obtain different results. In 1905. The images. He used a telescope to photograph the area of the sky where he thought the planet would be found. energy. Tombaugh. and (2) the general theory of relativity. .S. Because Pluto's density is low. The name also honors Percival Lowell. Those theories are (1) the special theory of relativity. As it orbits the sun. one person can observe that two events happen at the same time. which was published in 1905. The satellites. Pluto is mostly brown. Tombaugh found Pluto's image on three photographs. Percival Lowell.S. taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It spins around once in about six Earth days. Arizona. The theories of relativity describe events so strange that people find it difficult to understand how they could possibly occur. Clyde W. The bright regions. astronomers published the first detailed images of Pluto's surface. an American astronomer. Astronomers know little about Pluto's size or surface conditions because it is so far from Earth. an assistant at the Lowell Observatory.210 kilometers). the U. In 1996. later named Hydra and Nix. A clock can appear to one observer to be running at a given rate. Relativity Relativity is either of two theories of physics developed by the German-born American physicist Albert Einstein. 1999. he predicted the location of a new planet and began searching for it from his observatory in Flagstaff. In 1930. In 1915. announced in 1915. while another person observes that they occur at different times. wide-angle telescope. 23.300 kilometers). Matter can turn into energy. Pluto spins on its axis. Pluto has an estimated diameter of about 1. an imaginary line through its center. astronomers think Pluto is mainly icy. The planet appears to be partly covered with frozen methane gas and to have a thin atmosphere composed mostly of methane.

and a ball. The cabin is below deck. That principle is now known as Galilean relativity. share in the motion of the ship. in the cabin. both the speed and direction of the ship are unchanging. a character named Salvatius describes two scenarios involving a ship's cabin. along with butterflies and other small flying animals. In the second scenario. the principle of inertia would apply relative to the cabin. and the drops of water fall straight downward. and the two friends throw the ball and jump. The ship would also curve due to Earth's rotation on its axis and its revolution around the sun. Due to inertia. Because the cabin was accelerating (gaining speed) it would be an accelerating frame of reference. so it would no longer be an inertial frame. neither friend can tell by observing those events whether the ship is at rest or moving. But suppose the ship suddenly gained speed. That is. the effort required for the throw does not depend on the direction of the throw. Because the ship's motion has no effect on the events in the cabin. Undetectable motion Galileo presented the main idea behind Galilean relativity in the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632). the ship is traveling at a constant velocity. The friends in the cabin would observe that the principle of inertia no longer applied relative to the cabin. It is one of three laws of motion discovered by the English scientist Isaac Newton. the bowl would tend to remain at rest relative to the cabin. the water drips. and the two friends throw the ball to each other and jump about.and energy can turn into matter. the effort required for the jump does not depend on the direction of the jump. When either person jumps forward. For example. however. All the events that occurred in the first scenario happen again: The small creatures fly and swim. fish swimming in a bowl. When one friend throws the ball to the other. two friends are in the cabin. This is the main idea behind Galilean relativity. the fishbowl would be at rest relative to the cabin. Salvatius explains why this is so: All the objects in the cabin. an actual ship would not travel at a constant velocity. Galilean relativity In developing his theories. so neither person can see outside. including the living things. The principle of inertia is also known as Newton's first law of motion. The motion of the ship has no effect on any of these events. Those laws were published in 1687 in Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy). a bottle from which drops of water fall into another container. This term comes from the fact that. a work usually called . The animals move about naturally. Inertia is a body's resistance to a change in its curved. Einstein used ideas from a principle of relativity developed by the Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo. The cabin would no longer be moving at a constant velocity. In the first scenario. the ship's velocity could be almost perfectly constant. causing the bowl to slide. For example. A moving body tends to maintain its velocity. During periods of a few seconds. Inertial frames Physicists would refer to the cabin as an inertial (ihn UR shuhl) frame. A body that is at rest tends to remain at rest due to inertia. The friends observe that the flying animals fly with equal speed to all sides of the cabin. the ship would travel in a curve because Earth's surface -. Strictly speaking. In both scenarios. the fish swim in all directions. the ship is at rest. In this work.including the surface of the water -.

The ether's immovability made it a special inertial frame.282 miles (299. the waves had to travel through some substance.792 kilometers) per second. are flying in the same direction. A flight attendant in Jet A is walking at a speed of 5 kph in Jet A's direction of flight. A Galilean transformation will give the speed of the flight attendant relative to Jet B. Jet A and Jet B. and they imagined that it filled all space. for example. Maxwell developed equations showing that electric and magnetic fields can combine in ways that create waves.between 1886 and 1888. Maxwell's equations indicate that light moves at a particular speed. Maxwell said that light itself consists of electromagnetic waves -. represented by the letter c. He also said that other kinds of electromagnetic waves exist. Galilean transformations apply a principle that is based on Newton's first law: Any frame of reference that is moving at a constant velocity relative to an inertial frame is also an inertial frame. Electrically charged objects can act through their electric fields to attract or repel one another. Suppose. suppose the attendant turns around and walks at a speed of 5 kph in the opposite direction. magnets and objects that carry current can act through their magnetic fields to attract or repel one another. So the principle of Galilean relativity could be stated as: "The laws of nature are the same in all inertial frames. The Michelson-Morley experiment can be traced back to a theory produced in 1864 by the Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell. The physicists. An electric field is an influence that an electrically charged object creates in the region around it. performed their experiment on light rays. two jet aircraft. The Galilean transformation will be a subtraction: 30 kph . just as water waves travel through water. Galilean transformations Certain kinds of calculations involving Galilean relativity are an important part of the background of Einstein's theories. Part of this theory describes the relationship between electric and magnetic fields. The equations also indicate that these electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light. Until the late 1800' known as radio waves -. Maxwell assumed that c was the speed of light relative to the ether. The value of c is now known to be 186. The transformation will be an addition: 30 kph + 5 kph = 35 kph.a statement later proved to be true. a magnetic field is an influence that a magnet or an electric current creates in the region around it. Physicists reasoned that. Michelson and Edward W. it could not move from place to place. light would travel faster or . most scientists thought that all natural events could be explained by Newton's laws. The German physicist Heinrich Hertz discovered such waves -.5 kph = 25 kph. According to this assumption. Morley. they said. Albert A. an experiment conducted by two American physicists showed that there was something incorrect about Galileo's principle of relativity. They show how an event occurring in one inertial frame would appear to an observer in another inertial frame. Now. The Michelson-Morley experiment In 1887.simply Principia or Principia mathematica. Jet A is traveling 30 kilometers per hour (kph) faster than Jet B. Similarly. if light consisted of waves. Such calculations are known as Galilean transformations. They called the substance ether. Although the ether could transmit waves. And similarly." where the laws of nature were understood to be Newton's laws of motion and any laws based on them.

Galileo's principle cannot be absolutely correct. and height.length. Thus.slower than c in an inertial frame moving relative to the ether. space-time.150 kps. any object on Earth's surface -. where the laws are understood to include those described by Maxwell. Surprisingly. Instead. (2) The laws of nature are the same in all inertial frames. He therefore eliminated the ether from consideration. Therefore. The equations are named for the Dutch physicist Hendrik A. physicists refer to a single entity. width. The theory solved the puzzle of the Michelson-Morley experiment. Thus. time and space are not absolutely separate. The speed of light relative to the lab would therefore be different for light rays moving in different directions relative to the lab. This entity is a combination of the dimension of time and the three dimensions of space -. One of these is known as time dilation (dilation means widening). Special relativity Einstein noted that there was no evidence for the existence of the ether. Michelson and Morley found no difference at all. the special principle of relativity. In the complex mathematics of special relativity. For example. Einstein based his special theory of relativity on this principle. A and B. whatever their relative motion. Einstein introduced a new principle. Time dilation The Lorentz transformations show that a number of strange effects can occur. For an example of this effect. who first wrote them down in 1895. consider two spaceships. Accordingly. The ships are moving relative to each . It also made dramatic new predictions that were verified by later experiments. Lorentz. and the speed of light is the same for all observers. Lorentz transformations Special relativity uses equations known as Lorentz transformations to describe how an event occurring in one inertial frame would appear to an observer in another inertial frame. space-time is four-dimensional. The expected speed of the light relative to the lab would be c + 150 kps. Physicists also reasoned that Earth moved through the ether as the planet spun on its axis and circled the sun. Physicists tried without success to determine how light could act in a manner consistent with both Galilean relativity and the Michelson-Morley experiment.moved relative to the ether. He argued that Maxwell's equations mean that the speed of light must be the same in all inertial frames.including Michelson and Morley's laboratory -. And one could use Galilean transformations to calculate the speed of various rays relative to the lab. Imagine that a ray of light were emitted in the direction of the lab's movement. Lorentz developed the equations in an attempt to understand the Michelson-Morley experiment. Now. suppose the lab moved through the ether at a speed of 150 kilometers per second (kps). their experiment could measure tiny differences in speed. A Galilean transformation would show that the expected speed of the light relative to the lab would be c . Michelson and Morley conducted their experiment to measure expected differences in the speed of light relative to their laboratory. This result was a great puzzle. Although light travels extremely rapidly. This principle has two parts: (1) There is no ether. imagine that a light ray were emitted in the opposite direction.

Physicists have measured how quickly muons break apart in terms of the passage of time in their reference frames. high-energy particles that travel through space. For an example of the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction. As a result. they break apart as they travel. However. Strangely. This effect. Time dilation actually occurs at all relative velocities.that is. Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction Another strange effect of special relativity is the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction. The people in Spaceship A will observe that the clock in Spaceship B is running more slowly than the clock in Spaceship A. the people in the two ships will read the clocks differently.000 tons (20. But they will observe no change in the size of Spaceship B or any of the objects as measured from top to bottom or from side to side.000 metric tons) of TNT. many of them reach the surface. This quantity is roughly equal to the energy released in the explosion of 22. the muons break apart much more slowly relative to the reference frame of Earth. The equation says that an object at rest has an energy E equal to its mass m times the speed of light c multiplied by itself. For example. The speed of light is so high that the conversion of a tiny quantity of mass releases a tremendous amount of energy. They break apart so rapidly that one might conclude that hardly any of them could ever reach Earth's surface. There is a clock in each ship. also occurs in reverse: The people in Spaceship B will observe that Spaceship A and all the objects in it have shrunk in the direction of Spaceship A's motion relative to Spaceship B. The conversion of mass creates energy in the sun and other stars. The people in Spaceship A will observe that Spaceship B and all the objects in it have become shorter in the direction of Spaceship B's motion relative to Spaceship A. the Irish physicist George F. they are radioactive -. Both clocks keep time accurately. In addition. The collisions create a variety of particles. In 1889. Mass-energy relationship One of the most famous effects of special relativity is the relation between mass and energy: E = mcsquared (E = mc2).other at a speed close to c. people are not aware of time dilation as they go about their normal activities. like time dilation. However. time dilation is important in the study of cosmic rays. or squared. Lorentz proposed that contraction occurred as an effect of the Lorentz transformations. mass-to-energy conversion is responsible for the tremendous destructive force of nuclear weapons. and people in both ships can see both clocks. But at everyday velocities. Mass can be thought of as the amount of matter in an object. even the most sensitive instruments cannot detect it. Thus. It also produces the heat energy that is converted to electric energy in nuclear power plants. including muons. But the people in Spaceship B will observe that the clock in Spaceship A is running more slowly than the clock in Spaceship B. due to time dilation. The Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction also occurs at all relative velocities. or simply the Fitzgerald contraction. the complete conversion of an object with a mass of 1 gram would release 90 trillion joules of energy. In addition. . The muons travel at almost the speed of light. Some cosmic rays that originate in outer space collide with atoms at the top of Earth's atmosphere. Each muon can be considered to be its own reference frame. Fitzgerald had made a similar proposal. again consider the two spaceships.

" . a planet's motion depends on the position of the sun and the other planets. But Newton's law says that the force between two objects is transmitted instantaneously. Newton had given the law of gravity as F = m1m2 ÷ d2. where F is the gravitational force between two objects. The position of the proton determines the motion of the electron. Gravitational mass helps determine the force of gravity on an object. the law describes a gravitational action at a distance. This equation applies." The proton exerts the force by means of electromagnetic waves that can be thought of as light rays.General relativity Einstein developed the general theory of relativity to modify Newton's law of gravitation so that it would agree with special relativity. If your force is greater than the force of friction between the object and the floor and any other force that is working against you. m is the inertial mass of the object. for example. All these objects influence one another by means of gravitational force. and d2 is the distance between them squared. Einstein began with an observation that he called the principle of equivalence. Einstein saw that the principle reveals a close connection between the way an object moves through space-time and the gravitational force that acts on the object. Inertial mass is a measure of an object's inertia. The electron carries a negative electric charge. In the Principia. Thus. It does so by exerting a force of attraction on the electron -. This description disagrees with special relativity. This atom consists of a single electron in orbit around a single proton. This principle applies to forces as well as rays of light. The masses m1 and m2 in Newton's law of gravity are gravitational masses. Consider. This law explained the motion of the planets. The amount of acceleration will depend on the mass of the object and on your force minus the opposing application of the familiar principle "opposite charges attract. no matter how far apart the objects are. According to this principle. The Hungarian physicist Lorand Eotvos had verified the principle of equivalence experimentally in 1889. The proton emits (sends out) a ray. m1 and m2 are the masses of the objects. for example. A "thought experiment. That is. where F is the force exerted on an object. an object's gravitational mass equals its inertial mass. He recognized that gravity is therefore related to the structure of space-time. which the electron then absorbs. Principle of equivalence To eliminate action at a distance from Newton's laws. which says that there is no action at a distance. The key disagreement lay in descriptions of how objects exert forces on one another. In special relativity. According to the law. while the proton is positively charged. the electron's motion depends on what the position of the proton was when the proton emitted the ray. an atom of the simplest form of hydrogen. nothing can travel between two points faster than the speed of light. the object will go faster and faster. Inertial mass is given in the equation for Newton's second law of motion: F = ma. and a is the acceleration of the object. when you push an object across the floor.

it changes their lengths by an amount much smaller than an atomic nucleus. A laser system detects changes in the lengths. but has more mass then the sun. In relativity. In this theory. Gravitational waves General relativity indicates that gravitational waves transmit gravitational force. collisions between neutron stars and even more compact objects called black holes create tremendous distortions. A more common -. Most gravitational waves produce such small distortions of space-time that they are impossible to detect directly. the rock hovers beside the person. like the rock in the elevator. Scientists have observed gravitational waves indirectly in a pair of neutron stars that orbit each other. and one in Livingston. Washington. The most dramatic of these would be a bending of light rays by the sun's gravitation. gravitation must be a characteristic of the space-time in which the observer is falling." Einstein suggested that astronomers could make certain observations to test the general theory of relativity. When a gravitational wave passes through them. Eddington observed it. just as electromagnetic waves transmit electric and magnetic forces. the scientists determined that the stars' orbit is becoming smaller. Therefore.To describe how he would work to eliminate action at a distance. Physicists are building observatories to detect the resulting waves directly. Nowadays. mass and energy are equivalent. Thus. the principle that underlies Einstein's example is familiar in the phenomenon of weightlessness. it also is affected by gravity. Now. Neutron stars are the smallest and densest stars known. the shuttle and its passengers are in free fall. In 1919.but less precise -. because light carries energy. their experience is the same as it would be if there were no gravity at all. but Einstein calculated that it could be observed during a solar eclipse. Louisiana. Each facility is designed to detect gravitational waves by sensing their effect on two metal tubes that are 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) long. imagine that the elevator is in outer space -. A neutron star measures only about 12 miles (20 kilometers) across. Distortions in space-time Einstein translated this principle into mathematical terms in his general theory of relativity. again. and they are connected to each other in the shape of an L. and. Einstein said that the "thought experiment" reveals a general truth: A person in free fall cannot determine by observation within his or her reference frame that gravitation is present. consider an elevator that is falling freely toward Earth's surface. But. matter and energy distort (change the shape of) space-time. Astronauts in the space shuttle are so close to Earth that the planet's gravity acts on them. Einstein offered an example called a "thought experiment": First. Calculations involving equations of general relativity show that the orbit is shrinking because the stars are emitting gravitational waves. Suppose a person in the elevator drops a rock. and the distortion is experienced as gravity. The person drops the rock and. The light-bending effect is small. thereby making Einstein world-famous. and so it will merely hover in the air beside the person. An observatory known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has three facilities -. However.way of explaining the distortion is "Mass curves space. .two in Hanford. By observing the pair of stars for several years. The tubes are built along the ground. The rock will fall with the far from any planet or star that almost no gravitational force is present. the British astronomer Arthur S.

Rocket A rocket is a type of engine that pushes itself forward or upward by producing thrust. The word rocket can also mean a vehicle or object driven by a rocket engine. a rocket engine uses only the substances carried within it. sends commands to the robot's motorized joints. Most are stationary structures with a single arm capable of lifting objects and using tools. but few resemble the humanlike machines that appear in works of science fiction. For example. wrapping ice cream bars. Scientists have used such robots to explore the sea floor on Earth and the surface of Mars. Unlike a jet engine. and painting automobile body parts. Rocket engines generate thrust by expelling gas. For example. or dangerous for people. As a result.S. Robots vary in design and size. but it would take 39 train engines to produce the same amount of power. Some rockets that shoot fireworks into the sky measure less than 2 feet (60 centimeters) long. automobile manufacturer. where there is almost no air. Rockets 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 meters) long serve as long-range missiles that can be used to bomb distant targets during wartime. Robots can perform a variety of tasks. which draws in outside air. difficult. the main rocket engine of the space shuttle weighs only a fraction as much as a train engine. A typical robot performs a task by following a set of instructions that specifies exactly what it must do to complete the job. feedback from sensors. A rocket can produce more power for its size than any other kind of engine. Engineers have also developed mobile robots equipped with television cameras for sight and electronic sensors for touch. meaning drudgery. and remote control. They are especially suitable for doing jobs too boring. a computer or part of a computer. artificial satellites. They also do such jobs as making plastic containers. the Saturn 5 rocket that carried astronauts to the moon stood about 363 feet (111 meters) tall. and assembling electronic circuits. drilling.Robot Robots weld car bodies at a manufacturing plant in Wixom. Most rockets produce thrust by burning a mixture of . The computer. These robots are controlled by stored instructions. The science and technology that deals with robots is called robotics. which function much like human joints to move various parts of the robot. These instructions are stored in the robot's control center. Rockets come in a variety of sizes. and scientific probes into space. in turn. Image credit: Ford Motor Company A robot is a mechanical device that operates automatically. Larger and more powerful rockets lift spacecraft. Michigan ranks as the leading U. The term robot comes from the Czech word robota. a rocket can operate in outer space. Robots efficiently carry out such routine tasks as welding.

How rockets work Rocket engines generate thrust by putting a gas under pressure. The amount of thrust produced by a rocket depends on the momentum of the exhaust -. jet engines work by drawing in oxygen from the surrounding air. Parts of a rocket include the rocket engine and the equipment and cargo the rocket carries. Researchers have also developed rockets that do not burn propellants. Germany attacked London with V-2 rockets during World War II (1939-1945). which began in 2003. As it escapes.000 liters) of propellants during the first 2 3/4 minutes of flight. the exhaust pushes the rocket forward. Chemical rocket engines become extremely hot as the propellants burn. and transmit communications around the world. Jet engines also burn fuel to generate thrust.000 gallons (2. rockets have launched spacecraft carrying astronauts and cosmonauts into orbit around Earth. For more information on jet engines. Since 1961. its total amount of motion. there is an equal and opposite reaction. the American lawyer Francis Scott Key described "the rocket's red glare" in the song "The Star-Spangled Banner. British troops used rockets to attack Fort McHenry in Maryland during the War of 1812 (1812-1815). After watching the battle.fuel and an oxidizer. Engineers can therefore increase a rocket's thrust by increasing the mass of exhaust it produces. Thus. Newton's third law of motion states that for every action. a substance that enables the fuel to burn without drawing in outside air. as the rocket pushes the exhaust backward. A chemical rocket can produce great power. but it burns propellants rapidly. The temperature in some engines reaches o 6000 degrees F (3300 degrees C). This article discusses Rocket (How rockets work) (How rockets are used) (Kinds of rocket engines) (History). In the 1200's. The Saturn 5 rocket burned more than 560. rockets have lifted hundreds of artificial satellites into orbit around Earth. As a result. the more thrust the rocket produces." During World War I (1914-1918). The exhaust's momentum equals its mass (amount of matter) multiplied by the speed at which it exits the rocket. This kind of rocket is called a chemical rocket because burning fuel is a chemical reaction. Military forces have used rockets in war for hundreds of years. however.that is. The four . In an electric rocket. the exhaust produces thrust according to the laws of motion developed by the English scientist Isaac Newton. rockets carried astronauts to the first landing on the moon. Nuclear rockets use heat generated by a nuclear fuel to produce thrust. Since 1957. electric energy produces thrust. gather information for scientific study. Rockets are the only vehicles powerful enough to carry people and equipment into space. rockets lifted the first space shuttle into Earth orbit. Rockets also carry scientific instruments far into space to explore and study other planets. much higher than the temperature at which steel melts. The gas escaping the rocket is called exhaust. see Jet propulsion. The fuel and oxidizer are called the propellants. In 1981. These satellites take pictures of Earth's weather.120. In the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and the Iraq War. United States troops launched rocket-powered Patriot missiles to intercept and destroy Iraqi missiles. Alternately. The more momentum the exhaust has. the French used rockets to shoot down enemy observation balloons. Chinese soldiers fired rockets against attacking armies. it needs a large amount of propellants to work for even a short time. In 1969. Unlike rocket engines. they can increase the thrust by increasing the speed at which the exhaust leaves the rocket. The pressure forces the gas out the end of the rocket.

nearly 100 times the pressure in the tires of a car or truck. Like the chamber. scientific instruments. and (4) the nozzle. copper. Other commonly used oxidizers include nitrogen tetroxide and hydrogen peroxide. nickel. The space shuttle and many other chemical rockets use liquid hydrogen as fuel. and equipment the rocket carries. (3) the chamber. the chamber is the area where nuclear fuel heats the propellant. The payload may consist of a spacecraft. creating intense pressure. passengers. Temperatures in the chamber become hot enough to melt the steel. or even explosives. The exhaust from the nozzle can travel more than 1 mile (1. oxygen must be cooled to low temperatures to become a liquid. the nozzle requires cooling or insulation to withstand the heat of the exhaust. including the space shuttle. Kerosene. Many rockets. The space shuttle's payload. the fuel and oxidizer combine and burn in an area called the combustion chamber. the chamber contains the electric devices used to force the propellant out of the nozzle. The payload of a rocket includes the cargo.major parts of a rocket are (1) the payload. An electric or nuclear rocket uses a single propellant. which accelerates the exhaust to high speeds. or supplies the orbiter carries. as their oxidizer. For example. use liquid oxygen. Propellants generally make up most of the weight of a rocket. the propellants expand rapidly. The pressure inside a rocket engine can exceed 3. is the shuttle orbiter and the mission astronauts and any satellites. These oxidizers remain liquid at room temperature and do not require cooling. Like hydrogen. The walls of the chamber must also be strong enough to withstand intense pressure. The payload of a missile may include explosives or other weapons. The shuttle needs such a large amount of propellant to overcome Earth's gravity and the resistance of the atmosphere. Hydrogen becomes a liquid only at extremely low temperatures. or lox. scientific experiments. (2) propellants. and other materials used in its construction. These rockets store the propellant as a gas or liquid. As they burn. Pressurizing the propellants enables the rocket to expel them at high speeds. The chamber is the area of the rocket where propellants are put under pressure.000 pounds per square inch (200 kilograms per square centimeter). The nozzle is the opening at the end of the chamber that allows the pressurized gases to escape. the fuel and oxidizer used by the space shuttle account for nearly 90 percent of its weight at liftoff. requiring powerful cooling systems. producing pressure. another liquid fuel. Burning propellants create extreme heat and pressure in the combustion chamber. Combustion chambers need insulation or cooling to survive the heat. is easier to store because it remains liquid at room temperature.6 kilometers) per second. Multistage rockets . In a nuclear rocket. It converts the high pressure of the gases into thrust by forcing the exhaust through a narrow opening. for example. In a chemical rocket. In an electric rocket. This kind of payload is called a warhead.

. Missions that require long-distance travel. After burning its supply of propellant.500 kilometers) or more to bomb an enemy target with nuclear explosives. Discarding the empty stage makes the rocket lighter. Military use Rockets used by the military vary in size from small rockets used on the battlefield to giant guided missiles that can fly across oceans. (2) atmospheric research. Image credit: World Book diagram Many chemical rockets work by burning propellants in a single combustion chamber. Fighter airplanes carry rocket-powered guided missiles to attack other planes and ground targets. the first stage falls away from the rest of the rocket.400 miles (5. Powerful rockets propel a type of long-range guided missile called an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Armies use larger rockets to fire explosives far behind enemy lines and to shoot down enemy aircraft. When a stage runs out of propellant. Such a missile can travel 3. The ICBM coasts the rest of the way to its target. These sets. land targets. The space shuttle uses two stages. and (4) space travel. Engineers have designed and launched rockets with as many as five separate stages. Navy ships use guided missiles to attack other ships. An ICBM generally employs two or three separate stages to propel it during the early part of its flight. (3) launching probes and satellites. allowing the remaining stages to accelerate it more strongly. A balloon and a rocket work in much the same way. Gas flowing from the nozzle creates unequal pressure that lifts the balloon or the rocket off the ground. Engineers refer to these rockets as single-stage rockets. The bazooka is a small rocket launcher carried by soldiers for use against armored vehicles. generally require multiple-stage or multistage rockets. high-power transportation both within Earth's atmosphere and in space. the rocket discards it. A multistage rocket uses two or more sets of combustion chambers and propellant tanks. How rockets are used People use rockets for high-speed. Rockets are especially valuable for (1) military use. and planes. A person using a bazooka has as much striking power as a small tank. may be stacked end to end or attached side by side. called stages. The first stage launches the rocket. such as reaching Earth orbit.A two-stage rocket carries a propellant and one or more rocket engines in each stage. The second stage then ignites and carries the payload into earth orbit or even farther into space.

Rockets that launch satellites and probes are called launch vehicles.000 kilometers) per hour to escape Earth's gravity and continue on its voyage. like the ones used to launch probes and satellites. and thermometers high into the atmosphere. Engineers created the first launch vehicles by altering military rockets or sounding rockets to carry spacecraft. Rockets also provide the power for experimental research airplanes. it weighed more than 6 million pounds (2. cameras. carry such equipment as barometers. These instruments collect information about the atmosphere and send it by radio to receiving equipment on the ground.Atmospheric research Scientists use rockets to explore Earth's atmosphere. These rockets. such as those that make up the Global Positioning System (GPS). Others relay telephone conversations and radio and television broadcasts across the oceans. engineers learned how to control vehicles flying many times as fast as the speed of sound. . see Space exploration.000 kilograms) to the moon. Engineers use these planes in the development of spacecraft.000 kilometers) per hour -. was the most powerful launch vehicle ever built by the United States. Space shuttles are reusable rockets that can fly into space and return to Earth repeatedly. For example. A space probe's speed must reach about 25. By studying the flights of such planes as the rocket-powered X-1 and X-15. and watch for missile attacks. For more information on rockets used in space travel. Rockets lift artificial satellites into orbit around Earth. the moon. and carry astronauts over short distances in orbit. called boosters. Navigation satellites.000 miles (27. boost space probes. Today.7 million kilograms). The Saturn 5 rocket. Not only are satellites launched by rockets. engineers sometimes attach smaller rockets to a launch vehicle. Probes have landed on the surface of the moon. They carry scientific instruments that gather information about the planets and transmit data back to Earth.about 17. they added stages to some of these rockets to increase their speed. are called launch vehicles. The stages lift the satellite to its proper altitude and give it enough speed -. smaller rocket-powered vehicles that could tow satellites. The Saturn 5 used 11 rocket engines to propel three stages. Engineers have also worked to develop space tugs. Most of these rockets have from two to four stages. which carried astronauts to the moon. The armed forces use satellites to observe enemy facilities and movements. These rockets. provide additional thrust to launch heavier spacecraft. Launching probes and satellites Rockets carry crewless spacecraft called space probes on long voyages to explore the solar system. It could send a spacecraft weighing more than 100. They also use satellites to communicate. also called meteorological rockets. but many satellites use small rocket engines to maintain their proper orbits. and all the planets in our solar system except Pluto. enable receivers anywhere on Earth to determine their locations with great accuracy. monitor weather.000 pounds (45. Space travel Rockets launch spacecraft carrying astronauts that orbit Earth and travel into space. Venus. Probes have explored the stay in orbit. Sounding rockets. Some orbiting satellites gather information for scientific research. and Mars.000 miles (40. Weather satellites track climate patterns and help scientists predict the weather. Before launch.

Image credit: World Book diagram by Precision Graphics Solid-propellant rockets burn a rubbery or plastic-like material called the grain. engineers build the chamber walls from high-strength steel or titanium to withstand the pressure and heat of combustion. Composite chambers made from high-strength graphite fibers in a strong adhesive called epoxy weigh less than steel or titanium chambers.6 inch (1. . the fuel and oxidizer of a solid-propellant rocket do not burn upon contact with each other. This can make a solid-propellant rocket difficult to control. In most of these rockets. Small rockets called JATO (jet-assisted take-off) units help heavily loaded airplanes take off. Electric rockets have propelled space probes and maneuvered orbiting satellites. One method used to stop the burning of solid propellant involves blasting the entire nozzle section from the rocket. Kinds of rocket engines The vast majority of rockets are chemical rockets.Other uses People have fired rockets as distress signals from ships and airplanes and from the ground. Hot exhaust gases from this grain ignite the main propellant surface. This method. Researchers have designed experimental nuclear rockets. rocket controllers cannot easily stop or restart the burning of solid propellant. The two most common types of chemical rockets are solid-propellant rockets and liquid-propellant rockets.5 centimeters) per second. enabling the rocket to accelerate its payload more efficiently. Rockets have long been used in fireworks displays. Solid propellants burn at a rate of about 0. The propellant burns from the core outward. Rockets also shoot rescue lines to ships in distress. Engineers have tested a third type of chemical rocket. they do not need the pumping and injecting equipment required by liquid propellants. Furthermore. Instead. The ports increase the surface area of the grain that the rocket burns. On the other hand. It is shaped like a cylinder with one or more channels or ports that run through it. They also may use composite materials consisting of high-strength fibers embedded in rubber or plastic. an electric charge ignites a smaller grain. A solid-propellant rocket burns a solid material called the grain. Solid propellants can remain effective after long storage and present little danger of combusting or exploding until ignited. The grain consists of a fuel and an oxidizer in solid form. called a hybrid rocket. Unburned propellant shields the engine casing from the heat of combustion. Unlike some liquid propellants. The temperature in the combustion chamber of a solid-propellant rocket ranges from 3000 to 6000 degrees F (1600 to 3300 degrees C). Engineers design most grains with a hollow core. that combines liquid and solid propellants.

prevents restarting. called hypergols. Some liquid propellants. Most combustion chambers in liquid-propellant rockets are made of steel or nickel. or the burning of a small amount of solid propellant in the combustion chamber may do so. high-strength steel or aluminum to construct most tanks that hold liquid propellants. In larger engines. including the American Minuteman 2 and MX and the Russian RT-2. These rockets carry the fuel and the oxidizer in separate tanks. But most liquid propellants require an ignition system. and Sidewinder. Patriot. They are also used in fireworks. They also propel such smaller missiles as the American Hellfire. In the other method.however. high-pressure gas forces the fuel and oxidizer into the chamber. Solid-propellant rockets often serve as sounding rockets and as boosters for launch vehicles and cruise missiles. A liquid-propellant rocket carries fuel and an oxidizer in separate tanks. The fuel circulates through the engine's cooling jacket before entering the combustion chamber. Sparrow. A system of pipes and valves feeds the propellants into the combustion chamber. Rocket designers often choose solid propellants for rockets that must be easy to store. . transport. They may also reinforce tanks with composite materials like those used in solid-propellant rocket chambers. Military planners prefer solid-propellant rockets for many uses because they can be stored for a long time and fired with little preparation. An electric spark may ignite the propellant. Solid-propellant rockets power ICBM's. A liquid-propellant rocket feeds the fuel and oxidizer into the combustion chamber using either pumps or high-pressure gas. Engineers use thin. and the French SSBS. The gas may be nitrogen or some other gas stored under high pressure or may come from the burning of a small amount of propellants. The most common method uses pumps to force the fuel and oxidizer into the combustion chamber. Liquid propellants continue to burn as long as fuel and oxidizer flow into the combustion chamber. and launch. This flow cools the chamber and preheats the propellant for combustion. This circulation preheats the fuel for combustion and helps cool the rocket. Burning a small portion of the propellants provides the energy to drive the pumps. Image credit: World Book diagram by Precision Graphics Liquid-propellant rockets burn a mixture of fuel and oxidizer in liquid form. either the fuel or the oxidizer flows around the outside of the chamber before entering it. ignite when the fuel and the oxidizer mix.

The solid-fuel grain lines the inside of the combustion chamber. however. A key disadvantage of hybrid rockets is that their fuel burns slowly. hybrid rockets can vary thrust or even stop combustion by adjusting the flow of oxidizer. Controllers can easily adjust or stop burning in a liquid-propellant rocket by increasing or decreasing the flow of propellants into the chamber. The A Class rocket has also carried people into space. Also. Russia's Soyuz rocket. Scientists use liquid-propellant rockets for most space launch vehicles. Their safety has led designers to attempt to develop hybrid rockets for use in human flight. and a solid-fuel grain made of plastic or rubber. To generate more thrust. A hybrid rocket burns grain at a rate of about 0. If the fuel and oxidizer blend without igniting. limiting the amount of thrust they can produce.04 inch (1 millimeter) per second. Hybrid rockets can . Liquid propellants also require complicated pumping machinery. Researchers have not yet developed hybrid rockets powerful enough to launch human beings into space. Hybrid rockets are safer than solid-propellant rockets because the propellants are not premixed and so will not ignite accidentally. and the Proton rocket has carried International Space Station modules. hybrid rockets typically produce more thrust than solid rockets and less than liquid engines. the resulting mixture often will explode easily. Image credit: World Book illustrations by Oxford Illustrators Limited Liquid propellants usually produce greater thrust than do equal amounts of solid propellants burned in the same amount of time. making them simpler to build. This exposes more of the grain to the oxidizer. are difficult to handle. A pumping system sprays the oxidizer onto the surface of the grain. which is ignited by a smaller grain or torch. Liquid propellants. A hybrid rocket uses a liquid oxidizer. Researchers have used hybrid rockets to propel targets used in missile testing and to accelerate experimental motorcycles and cars attempting land speed records. These vehicles carry space probes and artificial satellites into outer space. unlike solid-propellant rockets.Launch vehicles used by European nations include the European Space Agency's Ariane 5 rocket and Russia's A class and Proton rockets. and China's Long March rocket. For a given amount of propellant. such as liquid oxygen. Hybrid engines require only half the pumping gear of liquid-propellant rockets. Liquid-propellant rockets serve as the main engines of the space shuttle as well as Europe's Ariane rocket. engineers must manufacture complex fuel grains with many separate ports through which oxidizer can flow. Hybrid rockets combine some of the advantages of both solid-propellant and liquid-propellant rockets. One such rocket would launch from an airplane to carry people to an altitude of about 60 miles (100 kilometers).

It enables an electric rocket to operate for a long time without running out of propellant. launched in 1998. such as xenon. focusing them into a beam. SpaceShipOne became the first privately funded craft to carry a person into space. The accelerator speeds up the ions and shoots them out through a nozzle. In one design.S. small electric rockets using xenon propellant have provided the thrust to keep communications satellites in position above Earth's surface. fired for a total of over 670 days using only 160 pounds (72 kilograms) of propellant. On June 21. This type of rocket powers the SMART-1 lunar probe. Researchers have also used hybrid rockets to propel targets used in missile testing and to accelerate experimental motorcycles and cars attempting land speed records. The safety of hybrid rockets has led engineers to develop them for use in human flight. Heating coils in the rocket change a fuel. Another type of electric rocket uses electromagnets rather than charged screens to accelerate xenon ions. Image credit: World Book diagram by Precision Graphics Electric rockets use electric energy to expel ions (electrically charged particles) from the nozzle. The exhaust from such rockets travels extremely fast. xenon gas passes through an electrified metal grid. The xenon rocket that powered the U. Solar panels or a nuclear reactor can provide the energy. to boost planetary probes or maneuver satellites in orbit. The Scaled Composites company of Mojave. launched by the European Space Agency in . the low rate of mass flow becomes an advantage. In addition. A positively charged screen repels the ions.produce enough thrust. maneuver satellites in orbit. they have worked to develop hybrid rockets to boost planetary probes. however. however. California. turning them into positively charged ions. Once in space. space probe Deep Space 1. The grid strips electrons from the xenon atoms. However. An ion rocket is a kind of electric rocket. The beam then enters a negatively charged device called an accelerator. It carried the American test pilot Michael Melvill more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth's surface during a brief test flight. A hot platinum or tungsten ionization grid changes the flowing vapor into a stream of electrically charged particles called ions. Electric rockets used in space must therefore be launched by chemical rockets. developed a hybrid rocket called SpaceShipOne that launched from an airplane. into a vapor. the stream of xenon ions has a relatively low mass. As a result. an electric rocket cannot produce enough thrust to overcome Earth's gravity. and power crew escape mechanisms for launch vehicles. Hybrid rockets could also power escape mechanisms being developed for new launch vehicles that would carry crews. In addition. 2004.

D. The English inventor William Hale improved the accuracy of military rockets. Most of the fuel flows through the reactor. British troops used Congreve rockets against the United States Army during the War of 1812. Some proposed designs would use hydrogen as propellant. continuous thrust to decrease flight times to Mars or other planets.2003. a nuclear rocket could therefore achieve high thrust.7 kilometers). Nuclear rocket developers must also overcome public fears that accidents involving such devices could release harmful radioactive materials.used by Chinese armies in A. These first rockets burned a substance called black powder. Colonel William Congreve of the British Army developed rockets that could carry explosives. He substituted three fins . Historical accounts describe "arrows of flying fire" -. the use of rockets had spread throughout much of Asia and Europe.believed to have been rockets -. engineers must convince the public that such devices are safe. 1232. By expelling a large quantity of hydrogen. By 1300. The shielding would weigh so much that the rocket could not be practically used to boost a launch vehicle. and sulfur. which consisted of charcoal. The turbine drives the fuel pump. History Historians believe the Chinese invented rockets. The exhaust speed of a nuclear rocket might reach four times that of a chemical rocket. Austria. The gas would expand rapidly and push out from the nozzle. a device that releases energy by splitting atoms. the use of rockets in fireworks displays outranked their military use in importance During the early 1800's. The rocket would store the hydrogen as a liquid. More practical applications would use small nuclear engines with low. A nuclear rocket uses the heat from a nuclear reactor to change a liquid fuel into a gas. heated by the nozzle of the rocket. saltpeter. Before nuclear rockets can be launched. but they do not know exactly when. and several other countries also developed military rockets during the early 1800's. However. Many of these rockets weighed about 32 pounds (15 kilograms) and could travel 1 3/4 miles (2. flows through the turbine. Russia. Some of the fuel. Image credit: World Book diagram by Precision Graphics Nuclear rockets use the heat energy of a nuclear reactor. Heat from the reactor would boil the liquid. creating hydrogen gas. For several hundred years. a nuclear rocket would require heavy shielding because a nuclear reactor uses radioactive materials.

• Jupiter C. in 1957. 68 feet (21 meters) • Mercury-Redstone. 83 feet (25 meters) • A Class (Sputnik). These V-2's became the first rockets used for high-altitude research. After the war. The United States no longer builds these rockets. the first U. Goddard conducted the first successful launch of a liquidpropellant rocket. Rockets of the early 1900's The Russian school teacher Konstantin E.S.S. Lifted Explorer I. von Braun and about 150 other German scientists moved to the United States to continue their work with rockets. with hundreds of V-2's during the last months of the war. the American rocket pioneer Robert H. Some other German rocket experts went to the Soviet Union. The rocket climbed 41 feet (13 meters) into the air at a speed of about 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour and landed 184 feet (56 meters) away. scientists benefited greatly by conducting experiments with captured German V-2's. the first artificial satellite. U. Launched Alan Shepard in 1961. satellite. Tsiolkovsky first stated the correct theory of rocket power. . German engineers under the direction of Wernher von Braun developed the powerful V-2 guided missile.S. U. The vehicles shown here helped the United States and the Soviet Union achieve milestones in the exploration of space. Soviet. in 1958. High-altitude rockets For several years after World War II. rocket research advanced in Germany. He described his theory in a scientific paper published in 1903. Hermann Oberth led a small group of German engineers and scientists that experimented with rockets. Korolev. U. 98 feet (29 meters) Image credit: WORLD BOOK illustrations by Oxford Illustrators Limited During World War II. Tsiolkovsky also first presented the ideas of the multistage rocket and rockets using liquid oxygen and hydrogen propellants. Leading Soviet rocket scientists included Fridrikh A. both sides used rockets. United States troops used Hale rockets in the Mexican War (1846-1848). the Soviet Union. During the American Civil War (1861-1865). American forces captured many V-2 missiles and sent them to the United States for use in research. Goddard remained the most prominent rocket researcher in the United States. Belgium. In 1926. Boosted Sputnik 1. but Russia continues to use the Soviet A Class design in the Soyuz rocket.for the long wooden tail that had been used to guide the rocket. Tsander and Sergei P.S. Germany bombarded London and Antwerp. During the 1930's. and the United States.

when the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite.S.960 meters) in 1963. 363 feet (111 meters) Image credit: WORLD BOOK illustrations by Oxford Illustrators Limited The U. 31. Carried Yuri Gagarin.S.600 kilometers). much longer than the Aerobee. Navy launched the Viking.S. But the first models of the Viking rose only about 50 miles (80 kilometers). and the Pershing could travel about 450 miles (720 kilometers). the U. Yeager of the U. Army launched the first American satellite. 14. 1957. the X-15 reached a peak speed of 4. Launched Neil Armstrong. The Jupiter had a range of about 1. 1958. The 16-foot (4. and the Viking. 126 feet (38 meters) • Saturn 5. Sputnik 1. in 1961. He flew a rocket-powered airplane called the X-1.S. the first person to orbit the earth. the first person to set foot on the moon. A rocket engine also powered the X-15. aboard a two-stage rocket. A privately owned and developed rocket-powered plane called the EZ-Rocket began piloted test flights in 2001. The Viking measured more than 45 feet (14 meters) long. U. which set an unofficial airplane altitude record of 354. Rockets developed by the U. The vehicles shown here helped the United States and the Soviet Union achieve milestones in the exploration of space. 4. United States space scientists later used many military rockets developed in the 1950's as the basis for launch vehicles. The space age began on Oct. In one flight.9-meter) WAC Corporal reached altitudes of about 45 miles (72 kilometers) during test flights in 1945.S. Captain Charles E.520 miles (7. On Jan.The first high-altitude rockets designed and built in the United States included the WAC Corporal. the Aerobee. . armed forces during the 1950's included the Jupiter and the Pershing.600 miles (2. • A Class (Vostok). In 1949. the U.200 feet (107. The United States no longer builds these rockets.274 kilometers) per hour -. into orbit with a Juno I rocket.more than six times the speed of sound. Air Force made the first supersonic (faster than sound) flight. in 1969. Early models of the Aerobee climbed about 70 miles (110 kilometers). 1947. Navy conducted the first successful launch of a Polaris underwater missile in 1960.S. Rocket-powered airplanes On Oct. but Russia continues to use the Soviet A Class design in the Soyuz rocket. an improved liquid-propellant rocket based chiefly on the V-2. Soviet. Explorer 1.

Rocket research In the early 2000's. 2005. Purdue University. a Soviet rocket put a cosmonaut. the first space shuttle to orbit Earth. the first American to travel in space. Ph. "Rocket. into orbit around Earth for the first time. Shepard.D.worldbookonline. Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics.. engineers and scientists worked to develop lightweight rocket engines that used safer propellants. How to cite this article: To cite this article. World Book." World Book Online Reference Center. Major Yuri A. For more information on the history of rockets in space travel. the United States launched the rocket-powered Columbia.On April 12. On April 12. 1981. Jr. http://www. They also searched for more efficient propellants that did not require refrigeration. Gagarin. Contributor: Stephen Heister. a Redstone rocket launched Commander Alan B. see Space exploration. 1961. such as tiny satellites that may weigh only a few pounds or kilograms when fully loaded. . World Book recommends the following format: Heister. Engineers began designing and testing smaller rocket engines for use in smaller vehicles. Stephen.. On May 5. Inc.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful