Unlike the solid planets of the inner Solar System, four worlds in the outer Solar System were able to capture and retain gases and volatile materials from the Sun's protoplanetary disk and swell to enormous size and mass. By the end of this chapter you should be able to:
- Compare the size and origin of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter to Earth-based phenomena.
- Explain how to use a feature like the Great Red Spot to determine the rotation of a planet.
- Differentiate the giant planets from each other and from the terrestrial planets.
- Describe why the giant planets look the way they do.
- Determine the size of the giant planets and their wind speeds.
- Describe how gravitational energy turns into thermal energy and how that affects the atmospheres of the giant planets.
- Explain the extreme conditions deep within the interiors of the giant planets.
- Describe the origin and general structure of the rings of the giant planets.