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Mercury, Venus, Mars: our neighbors, the planets we know most about and, perhaps, feel the closest connection to. At that, however, they are still strange and inhospitable worlds. Strange? Inhospitable? Well, as Al Jolson was famous for saying, "You ain't seen nothin' yet." In the next chapter we visit the jovian planets, the gas giants of the outer solar system.

The Least You Need to Know

V The terrestrial planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.

V While the terrestrial planets share certain Earth-like qualities, they differ in significant ways that, among other things, make the existence of life on those planets either impossible or highly unlikely.

V Mercury and Venus display rotational peculiarities. In the case of Mercury, its rotation can be explained by its proximity to the sun; but the slow retrograde rotation of Venus can be explained only by the occurrence of some random event (probably a collision) early in the formation of the solar system.

V Of the terrestrial planets, only the earth has an atmosphere and environment conducive to life.

V While Mars may look and seem familiar, its cold surface whipped by dust storms is a harsh environment.

Telescopes Mastery

Telescopes Mastery

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