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Introducing the Planets and their Moons

Peter Cattermole

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Product Details
04 Sep 2014
Dunedin Academic Press
152 pages -
Introducing Earth and Environmental Sciences
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. By using this format, it follows other titles in the same series.
Preface. List of tables and illustrations. 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. Epilogue. Appendix 1 – Phobos and Deimos. Appendix 2 – Planetary stratigraphic timescales. Glossary. Further reading.
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.

'This little book is full of detailed information, anticipating the current Rosetta exploration of the comet 67P (12/11/2014) together with continuing and future exploratory programmes.

There are 12 basic chapters, a full list of tables and illustrations, a useful glossary and a list of books for further reading. Many of the illustrations are from NASA and JPL, including Hubble Space Telescope photographs and artist illustrations. A helpful addition would be diagrams of the relative positions of each set of planet with its moons.

There are detailed descriptions of the surface features and analyses of the compositions of each planet and moon, as far as is possible to date. In some cases the analysis has been from actual samples, such as those from the Earth’s Moon and from Mars.

Rather than take each planet separately, each chapter makes comparisons of the planets. Chapter 1 is a general descriptive introduction; Ch. 2 describes the probable origin of the Solar System; Ch. 3 introduces the Planets and their orbits; Ch. 4 discusses planetary differentiation; Ch. 5 describes the magnetic fields; Ch. 6 planetary atmospheres; Ch. 7 geological development of the inner planets; and Ch. 8 volcanism within the inner Solar System. The Earth’s moon is discussed in Ch. 9; Ch. 10 covers the outer planets; Ch. 11 the moons of Jupiter and Saturn; and Ch. 12 the moons of Uranus and Neptune.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for detailed and up-to-date information (as at March 2014) to complement other studies. It is written well by a man who worked with NASA. As he says, it is not an exhaustive treatment, but rather intended to inspire readers to investigate more of the subject.'
The Open University Geological Society Journal

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