By Frédéric J. Pont
Planetary atmospheres are advanced and evolving entities, as mankind is speedily coming to understand while trying to comprehend, forecast and mitigate human-induced weather switch. within the sunlight process, our neighbours Venus and Mars supply outstanding examples of 2 endpoints of planetary evolution, runaway greenhouse and lack of surroundings to space.
The number of extra-solar planets brings a much wider attitude to the problem: from sizzling "hot jupiters'' to ocean worlds, exo-atmospheres discover many configurations unknown within the sun process, equivalent to iron clouds, silicate rains, severe plate tectonics, and steam volcanoes. Exoplanetary atmospheres have lately turn into obtainable to observations.
This booklet places our personal weather within the wider context of the rigors and tribulations of planetary atmospheres. according to state of the art examine, it makes use of a grand travel of the atmospheres of different planets to polish a brand new gentle on our personal surroundings, and its relation with life.
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Extra resources for Alien Skies: Planetary Atmospheres from Earth to Exoplanets
11 Sulphur haze. 36 Chapter 2 – Venus acid to condense it will form tiny droplets, making the atmosphere hazy just like smog over a city. Over time the largest drops will start falling, growing in size to form the clouds below. At some point however, the temperature will reach the boiling point of sulphur dioxide (337 degrees Celsius), and the rain will evaporate, never reaching the ground. Finally, in the high temperatures below the clouds, the sulphuric acid is broken back into its constituent elements, including smelly sulphur dioxide, ready to be carried upwards by the convection of the atmosphere for another cycle.
Water is one of the most abundant substances on the surface of planets, and Earth, Venus and Mars probably all possessed generous amounts of surface water in the early days of the Solar System. However, water has a fundamental weakness – as H2O, it contains two atoms of hydrogen, the lightest element in the Universe. The gravity of Earth is not strong enough to keep hold of free hydrogen. As long as the hydrogen atoms are tied up in a water molecule, they are fine, but if they ever become separated, they drift off into space.
Over time the largest drops will start falling, growing in size to form the clouds below. At some point however, the temperature will reach the boiling point of sulphur dioxide (337 degrees Celsius), and the rain will evaporate, never reaching the ground. Finally, in the high temperatures below the clouds, the sulphuric acid is broken back into its constituent elements, including smelly sulphur dioxide, ready to be carried upwards by the convection of the atmosphere for another cycle. Fig. 12 Acid rain on Earth.
Alien Skies: Planetary Atmospheres from Earth to Exoplanets by Frédéric J. Pont