The solar system, of which Earth is but a small part, is an amazing collection of bodies, ranging in size from the Sun, through the giant planet Jupiter, to specks of dust left over from the primordial nebula from which the system emerged. Excluding the Sun, the eight major planets, together with several dwarf planets and at least 160 orbiting natural satellites, form the main mass of the system These are made from an amalgam of silicate, metal, ice and gas. Peter Cattermole describes the characteristics and geological development of the eight large planetary bodies and their more substantial moons. This includes discussion of their orbital properties, magnetic fields, atmospheres and mutual interactions. Rather than deal with the system planet by planet, his approach is comparative. Thus one chapter deals with planetary orbits, another with planetary differentiation and a third with volcanism. This enables the reader to perceive immediately how their position and size led these bodies along different evolutionary paths. The book is copiously illustrated with some of the finest images available, lacks technical equations and terms, and includes a useful glossary for reference.
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Peter Cattermole was a lecturer in planetary geology and igneous petrology at the Universities of Wales and Sheffield. For many years he was a Principal Investigator on NASA's Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program, studying the volcanoes of Mars and Venus.
List of tables and illustrations. Preface. 1 Introduction. 2 The origin of the Solar System.3 Planets and their orbits. 4 Planetary differentiation. 5 Magnetic fields. 6 Planetary atmospheres. 7 Geological development of the Inner Planets. 8 Volcanism within the inner Solar System. 9 Earth's Moon. 10 The Outer Planets. 11 Outer planet moons - Jupiter and Saturn. 12 Outer planet Moons - Uranus and Neptune. 13 Epilogue. Appendix - Phobos and Deimos. Glossary. Further reading.