By the conclusion of this chapter, you should be able to:
- Identify the processes that cause primary and secondary atmospheres to be formed, retained, and lost.
- Explain the similarities and differences in the atmospheres of Earth, Venus, and Mars.
- Compare the relative strength of the greenhouse effect on Earth, Venus, and Mars.
- Discuss how Earth’s atmosphere has been reshaped by the presence of life.
- Contrast weather and climate, and identify the physical principles that govern each.
- Describe how comparative planetology contributes to a better understanding of the changes in Earth’s climate.
Prepare and Assess
- Atmospheres: Formation and Escape
- Greenhouse Effect
- Gas Retention Plot
Shows how the molecular mass, temperature, and escape speed determine whether a gas will remain gravitationally bound to a planet.
- Gas Retention Simulator
Demonstrates how gases of different molecular masses behave when maintained at thermodynamic equilibrium in a chamber. The chamber can be set to allow particles that exceed a certain speed to escape, providing an analogy for the bleeding of a planet’s atmosphere into space.
Reassess and Apply
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