Related topics: earth · nasa · orbit · solar system · mars

Modeling early meteorite impacts on the moon

As our solar system was forming nearly four and a half billion years ago, a planet-sized object struck the early Earth, leading to the formation of the moon, possibly from a hot, spinning cloud of rock vapor called a synestia. ...

What makes a planet habitable

Which of Earth's features were essential for the origin and sustenance of life? And how do scientists identify those features on other worlds?

Iron volcanoes may have erupted on metal asteroids

Metallic asteroids are thought to have started out as blobs of molten iron floating in space. As if that's not strange enough, scientists now think that as the metal cooled and solidified, volcanoes spewing liquid iron could ...

Dawn reveals recent changes in Ceres' surface

Observations of Ceres have detected recent variations in its surface, revealing that the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system is a dynamic body that continues to evolve and change.

New finding supports Moon creation hypothesis

A layer of iron and other elements deep underground is the evidence scientists have long been seeking to support the hypothesis that the moon was formed by a planetary object hitting the infant Earth some 4.5 billion years ...

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Planetary science

Planetary science is the scientific study of planets, moons, and planetary systems, in particular those of the Solar System. It studies objects ranging in size from micrometeoroids to gas giants, aiming to determine their composition, dynamics, formation, interrelations and history. It is a strongly interdisciplinary field, originally growing from astronomy and earth science, but which now incorporates many disciplines, including planetary astronomy, planetary geology (together with geochemistry, geophysics and geomorphology as applied to planets), atmospheric science, theoretical planetary science, and the study of extrasolar planets. Allied disciplines include space physics, when concerned with the effects of the Sun on the bodies of the Solar System, and astrobiology.

There are interrelated observational and theoretical branches of planetary science. Observational research can involve a combination of space exploration, predominantly with robotic spacecraft missions using remote sensing, and comparative, experimental work in Earth-based laboratories. The theoretical component involves considerable computer simulation and mathematical modelling.

Planetary scientists are generally located in the astronomy and physics or earth sciences departments of universities or research centres, though there are several purely planetary science institutes worldwide. There are several major conferences each year, and a wide range of peer-reviewed journals.

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