What are the advantages of using radar imaging rather than ordinary cameras to study the topography of Venus? What are the relative advantages of these two approaches to mapping Earth or Mars?
Venus and Earth are nearly the same size and distance from the Sun. What are the main differences in the geology of the two planets? What might be some of the reasons for these differences?
Why is there so much more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Venus than in that of Earth? Why so much more carbon dioxide than on Mars?
If the Viking missions were such a rich source of information about Mars, why have we sent the Pathfinder, Global Surveyor, and other more recent spacecraft to Mars? Make a list of questions about Mars that still puzzle astronomers.
Compare Mars with Mercury and the Moon in terms of overall properties. What are the main similarities and differences?
Contrast the mountains on Mars and Venus with those on Earth and the Moon.
We believe that all of the terrestrial planets had similar histories when it comes to impacts from space. Explain how this idea can be used to date the formation of the martian highlands, the martian basins, and the Tharsis volcanoes. How certain are the ages derived for these features (in other words, how do we check the ages we derive from this method)?
Is it likely that life ever existed on either Venus or Mars? Justify your answer in each case.
Suppose that, decades from now, NASA is considering sending astronauts to Mars and Venus. In each case, describe what kind of protective gear they would have to carry, and what their chances for survival would be if their spacesuits ruptured.
We believe that Venus, Earth, and Mars all started with a significant supply of water. Explain where that water is now for each planet.
One source of information about Mars has been the analysis of meteorites from Mars. Since no samples from Mars have ever been returned to Earth from any of the missions we sent there, how do we know these meteorites are from Mars? What information have they revealed about Mars?
The runaway greenhouse effect and its inverse, the runaway refrigerator effect, have led to harsh, uninhabitable conditions on Venus and Mars. Does the greenhouse effect always cause climate changes leading to loss of water and life? Give a reason for your answer.
In what way is the high surface temperature of Venus relevant to concerns about global warming on Earth today?
What is a dust devil? Would you expect to feel more of a breeze from a dust devil on Mars or on Earth? Explain.
Near the martian equator, temperatures at the same spot can vary from an average of –135 °C at night to an average of 30 °C during the day. How can you explain such a wide difference in temperature compared to that on Earth?