Descriptive Astronomy 101
Planetary Geology Study Guide


After the "Planetary Geology" lecture and readings you should be able to answer and discuss the following questions.

How was the word planet originally defined?

What are the three means by which planets have been explored and studied?

Of these three methods, which is providing the greatest amount of information?

Outline a typical planetary interior structure starting at the center of the planet.

What are the typical compositions of the interior structure layers for a terrestrial planet?

What are the typical compositions of the interior structure layers for a jovian planet?

What is tectonics?

What is the driving mechanism for tectonic activity?

What are the sources of heat in a planetary interior?

Why does tectonic activity only occur in planets with warm interiors?

What happens if the planetary interior is cool?

What is the relationship between planetary temperature and size?

What is stress?

What are the three types of stress and how do they behave?

What is magma and how is it generated?

Where is magma generated?

What happens to the magma once it is produced?

If magma reaches the surface, what is it called, and what happens to it?

List and describe the 3 main types of volcanic rocks and their compositions.

List and describe the 4 main types of lava flows.

What are impact craters?

Compare and contrast the characteristics of a small or simple crater with a large or complex crater.

What is an impact basin and what are its characteristics?

What is the relation between a large crater and an impact basin?

Describe the cratering process for simple craters.

Describe the cratering process for large craters and basins.

What is erosion?

What does erosion do to the planetary surface?

What is space weathering and how does it operate?

What is the importance of space weathering?