American Museum of Natural History
- The Pluto controversy: What's a planet, anyway?
- How was our Solar System formed?
- Features of planets
- The search for life
- Curiosity: Searching for carbon
- Seeing planets like never before
- Solar System glossary
- Quiz: Planets
- Exploration Questions: Planets
- Answers to Exploration Questions: Planets
Answers to Exploration Questions: Planets
1. Explain the difference between the Kuiper Belt and the Asteroid Belt. Are any bodies within these regions considered planets? Why or why not?
Answer: Asteroid belt is a region of rocky bodies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The Kuiper Belt is a region of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune. Bodies within these regions are not considered planets because there are so many objects within these regions. In order to be a planet, there would need to be one main body within the region.
2.**In this diagram of a rocky planet, what does the black circle in the center represent? How did it form?**
Answer: The central black circle in this diagram represents the planet’s iron-rich core. It formed through the process of differentiation, in which heavier elements like iron sank to the center and lighter elements floated up to the form the outer rocky layers.
3. Identify the feature and planet shown in each image below. What do these two images have in common? How are they different?
Answer: Earth is shown on the left and Jupiter is shown on the right. The common feature shown is a hurricane. Though the hurricane on Jupiter resembles the one on Earth, it is far more powerful and up to a hundred times larger.
4. If Curiosity rover finds what it’s searching for on Mars, is it possible that life exists — or once existed — on that planet? Explain your answer. In your answer, consider the requirements of life and what has been found on earlier Mars missions.
Answer: The Curiosity rover is searching for organic carbon at Mount Sharp. If they find carbon, it is possible that life exists, or once existed, there. Earlier missions found signs of water, and, like Earth, Mars receives energy from the Sun. This would mean Mars once had the three primary needs for life: water, an energy source, and carbon.
Want to join the conversation?
- Was carbon ever found on Mars?(2 votes)
- If carbon is found what does that mean?(1 vote)
- How could their be life humans would have to suck small bits of water out of the ground so would animals and they would die before they could even have any of the water, carbon won't help humans live there it would be nice if we could grab it though so my question is how could their be life there?(1 vote)
- The type of life they're looking for is not complex organisms like mammals or fish, they're expecting, if there ever was life on mars, to find something small like a single celled organism such as a bacteria. see https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/big-history-project/life/life-and-big-history/v/bhp-origin-of-life_crashcourse(1 vote)