Solar System Explorer Gizmo Answer Key

The Solar System formed 4. 6 billion years ago from the gravitational collapse of a giant interstellar molecular cloud. The vast majority of the system’s mass is in the Sun, with the majority of the remaining mass contained in Jupiter. The four smaller inner planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, are terrestrial planets, being primarily composed of rock and metal. The four outer planets are giant planets, being substantially more massive than the terrestrials. The two largest, Jupiter and Saturn, are gas giants, being composed mainly of hydrogen and helium; the two outermost planets, Uranus and Neptune, are ice giants, being composed mostly of substances with relatively high melting points compared with hydrogen and helium, called volatiles, such as water, ammonia and methane. All eight planets have almost circular orbits that lie within a nearly flat disc called the ecliptic.

In September 2015, a new study provided an important missing piece to the intriguing puzzle of how our Moon came to be the lovely object that we see today. Organic dust forms when organic molecules, resulting from the interaction of sunlight with methane, grow large enough to tumble down to the surface of Titan. Dr. Roderiguez continued to explain that, even though this is the first-ever observation of a dust storm on Titan, the discovery is not especially surprising. Titan: Titan, the tormented, hydrocarbon-slashed largest moon of Saturn--and the second largest moon in our Solar System, after Ganymede--could possess a subsurface, salty ocean that may well be as salty as the Dead Sea on Earth. The salty water could begin approximately 31 to 62 miles beneath Titan's icy shell, according to recent estimates. Meanwhile, on Titan's smog enshrouded surface, "life as we do not know it" could swim in alien lakes and rivers that flow with liquid methane and ethane hydrocarbons--instead of water.