Introduction to Planetary Science: The Geological Perspective

Springer Science & Business Media
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This textbook is intended to be used in a lecture course for college students majoring in Earth Sciences. Planetary science provides an opportunity for these students to apply a wide range of subject matter pertaining to the Earth to the study of other planets and their principal satellites. In this way, planetary science tends to unify subjects in the Earth Sciences that are traditionally taught separately. Therefore, planetary science is well-suited to be taught as a capstone course for senior undergraduates in geology departments and as an introduction to the solar system in astronomy departments. Both groups of students will benefit because planetary science bridges the gap between geology and astronomy and it prepares geologists and astronomers to participate actively in the on-going exploration of the solar system.

The subject matter is presented in 24 chapters that lead the reader through the solar system starting with historical perspectives on space exploration and the development of the scientific method. The presentations concerning the planets and their satellites emphasize that their origin and subsequent evolution can be explained by applications of certain basic principles of physics, chemistry, and celestial mechanics and that the surface features of the solid bodies in the solar system can be interpreted by means of the principles of geology.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Springer Science & Business Media
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Published on
May 4, 2007
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Pages
526
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ISBN
9781402055447
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Astronomy
Science / Earth Sciences / General
Science / Earth Sciences / Geology
Science / Earth Sciences / Mineralogy
Science / Physics / Astrophysics
Science / Physics / Geophysics
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This content is DRM protected.
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One of the most fundamental discoveries of the solar system was the detection of four moons in orbit around Jupiter by Galileo Galilei in 1610. The discovery was significant not only in the context of Jupiter; it gave credence to and was instrumental in firmly establishing the heliocentric system of Nicolaus Copernicus. Almost four centuries after Galileo's discovery, exten sive observations by the two Voyager spacecrafts have once again revolu tionized our thinking about the major planets, their composition, structure, origin, and evolution. This book is an attempt at summarizing our present understanding of the atmospheres and ionospheres in the outer solar system, with particular emphasis on the relevant physics and chemistry. I was motivat ed to prepare this manuscript for the following reasons. First, after under going rapid expansion in the recent past, the subject has finally attained suf ficient maturity to warrant a monograph of its own. Second, I have felt that as a result of recent observations, new and challenging problems have arisen whose resolution requires unconventional analysis and theoretical interpreta tion of existing data, as well as the collection of new kinds of data. I believe the time is ripe to put these issues in the appropriate scientific perspective, with the hope of stimulating novel theoretical, observational, and laboratory studies. I have highlighted the significant scientific problems throughout the book, especially at the end of each chapter.
Forty years ago when plate tectonics was first discovered, there was a major shift in thinking in the Earth Sciences. Little was known at that time about the deep mantle because of the lack of knowledge about material properties, the absence of any seismic tomography or concepts such as mantle convection. Thus the theory of platetectonicswasbuiltonsurfaceobservationsandkinematicconstraints.Thetheory of plate tectonics is not independent but consists of several assumptions. Examples are the origin of arc magma, MORB or OIB, and the distribution of earthquakes and the plate margin processes are all part of plate tectonics theory. In the intervening years much progress has been made in all three burgeoning areas of mineral physics, seismic tomography and mantle dynamics, thanks to the technological advances in synchrotron radiation and supercomputers. Mineralphysicsstudieshaveprovidedsomeofthekeyparametersthatcontrolthe style of mantle convection. The style of convection in the Earth’s mantle is largely controlled by complex material properties including the changes in density and v- cosityassociatedwithalargevariationinthepressureandtemperatureoftheEarth’s interior. These key physical properties have become the target of both experimental andtheoreticalstudiesinmineralphysics.Startingfromtheearly90s,theadvancesin high-performance computational capability has allowed us to incorporate these m- eral physics findings into large-scale computational modeling of mantle convection; and these studies have highlighted the complexities of mantle convection caused by the variation in density due to both thermal and chemical anomalies (and viscosity) in the Earth’s deep interior.
This book presents a summary of the geology of the Transantarctic Mountains for Earth scientists who may want to work there or who need an overview of the geologic history of this region. In addition, the properties of the East Antarctic ice sheet and of the meteorites that accumulate on its surface are treated in separate chapters. The presentation ends with the Cenozoic glaciation of the Transantarctic Mountains including the limnology and geochemical evolution of the saline lakes in the ice-free valleys.

• The subject matter in this book is presented in chronological order starting about 750 million years ago and continuing to the present time.
• The chapters can be read selectively because the introduction to each chapter identifies the context that gives relevance to the subject matter to be discussed.
• The text is richly illustrated with 330 original line drawings as well as with 182 color maps and photographs.
• The book contains indexes of both subject matter and of authors’ names that allow it to be used as an encyclopedia of the Transantarctic Mountains and of the East Antarctic ice sheet.
• Most of the chapters are supplemented by Appendices containing data tables, additional explanations of certain phenomena (e.g., the formation and seasonal destruction of stratospheric ozone), and illustrative calculations (e.g., 38Cl dates of meteorites).
• The authors have spent a combined total of fourteen field seasons between 1964 and 1995 doing geological research in the Transantarctic Mountains with logistical support by the US Antarctic Program.
• Although Antarctica is remote and inaccessible, tens of thousands of scientists of many nationalities and their assistants have worked there and even larger numbers of investigators will work there in the future.
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