Describe the differences in the chemical makeup of the inner and outer parts of the solar system. What is the relationship between what the planets are made of and the temperature where they formed?
How did the giant planets grow to be so large?
Jupiter is denser than water, yet composed for the most part of two light gases, hydrogen and helium. What makes Jupiter as dense as it is?
Would you expect to find free oxygen gas in the atmospheres of the giant planets? Why or why not?
Why would a tourist brochure (of the future) describing the most dramatic natural sights of the giant planets have to be revised more often than one for the terrestrial planets?
The water clouds believed to be present on Jupiter and Saturn exist at temperatures and pressures similar to those in the clouds of the terrestrial atmosphere. What would it be like to visit such a location on Jupiter or Saturn? In what ways would the environment differ from that in the clouds of Earth?
Describe the different processes that lead to substantial internal heat sources for Jupiter and Saturn. Since these two objects generate much of their energy internally, should they be called stars instead of planets? Justify your answer.
Research the Galileo mission. What technical problems occurred between the mission launch and the arrival of the craft in Jupiter’s system, and how did the mission engineers deal with them? (Good sources of information include Astronomy and Sky & Telescope articles, plus the mission website.)