Astronomy Chapter 7 Practice Questions

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Suppose we use a baseball to represent Earth. On this scale, the other terrestrial worlds (Mercury, Venus, the Moon, and Mars) would range in size approximately from that of _________.

a golf ball to a baseball

From center to surface, which of the following correctly lists the interior layers of a terrestrial world?

core, mantle, crust

What do we mean when we say that the terrestrial worlds underwent differentiation?

When their interiors were molten, denser materials sank toward their centers and lighter materials rose toward their surfaces.

A terrestrial world’s lithosphere is ________.

a layer of relatively strong, rigid rock, encompassing the crust and part of the mantle

The two most important processes in heating the interiors of the terrestrial worlds are:

Which of the following is an example of convection?

Warm air expanding and rising while cooler air contracts and fall.

What is a magnetosphere?

a region of space around a planet in which the planet’s magnetic field can trap charged particles

The processes responsible for virtually all surface geology are _________.

impact cratering, volcanisms, tectonics, and erosion

In the context of planetary geology, what do we mean by outgassing?

the release by volcanism of gases that had been trapped in a planetary interior

Which of the following is not an example of tectonics?

The gradual disappearance of a crater rim as a result of wind and rain.

Suppose we represent Earth with a basketball. On this scale, most of the air in Earth’s atmosphere would fit in a layer that is _________.

about the thickness of a sheet of paper

Why is the sky blue (on Earth)?

Because molecules scatter blue light more effectively than red light

Which of the following is the most basic definition of a greenhouse gas?

a gas that absorbs infrared light

Which of the following best describes the lunar maria?

relatively smooth, flat plains on the Moon

Why does the Moon have a layer of "powdery soil" on its surface?

It is the result of countless tiny impacts by small particles striking the Moon.

What observational evidence supports the idea that Mercury once shrank by some 20 kilometers in radius?

the presence of many long, tall cliffs

Olympus Mons is ______.

a huge volcano on Mars

Which of the following is not a similarity between Earth and Mars?

Both planets have similar atmospheric pressure.

All of the statements below are true. Which one gives the primary reason why the surface of Venus today is some 450°C hotter than the surface of Earth?

Venus has a much stronger greenhouse effect than Earth.

What do we mean by a runaway greenhouse effect?

a greenhouse effect that keeps getting stronger until all of a planet’s greenhouse gases are in its atmosphere

On average, how fast do the plates move on the Earth?

a few centimeters per year

In the context of plate tectonics, what is a subduction zone?

A place where a seafloor plate is sliding under a continental plate.

What is the importance of the carbon dioxide (CO2) cycle?

It regulates the carbon dioxide concentration of our atmosphere, keeping temperatures moderate.

Earth has been gradually warming over the past few decades. Based on a great deal of evidence, scientists believe that this warming is caused by _____.

human activities that increase the concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere

Based on all we know about the terrestrial worlds, what single factor appears to play the most important role in a terrestrial planet’s geological destiny?

its size

The cores of the terrestrial worlds are made mostly of metal because ______.

metals sunk to the centers a long time ago when the interiors were molten throughout

The reason that small planets tend to lose interior heat faster than larger planets is essentially the same as the reason that _________.

a large baked potato takes longer to cool than a small baked potato

Suppose we had a device that allowed us to see Earth’s interior. If we looked at a typical region of the mantle, what would we see happening?

not much – on human time scales, the mantle looks like solid rock

Recent evidence suggests that Mars once had a global magnetic field. Assuming this is true, which of the following could explain why Mars today lacks a global magnetic field like that of Earth?

Mars’s interior has cooled so much its molten core layer no longer undergoes convection.

What are the two geological features that appear to set Earth apart from other terrestrial worlds in our solar system?

plate tectonics and a high level of erosion

Which of the following general statements about Earth’s atmosphere is not true?

The nitrogen and oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere keep the surface pleasantly warm.

Which of the following best describes how the greenhouse effect works?

A planet’s surface absorbs visible sunlight and returns this absorbed energy to space as infrared light. Greenhouse gases slow the escape of this infrared radiation, which thereby heats the lower atmosphere.

Suppose that Earth’s atmosphere had no greenhouse gases. Then Earth’s average surface temperature would be ________.

well below the freezing point of water

Most of the Moon’s surface is densely covered with craters, but we find relatively few craters within the lunar maria. What can we conclude?

The maria formed after the heavy bombardment ended.

Which of the following best describes the geological histories of the Moon and Mercury?

Early in their histories, they suffered many impacts and experienced some volcanism and tectonics, but they now have little geological activity at all.

What makes us think that Mars must once have had an atmosphere that was warmer and had higher surface pressure?

The atmosphere is too cold and thin for liquid water today, yet we see evidence that water flowed on the surface in the past.

All the following statements about Mars are true. Which one might have led to a significant loss of atmospheric gas to space?

Mars lost any global magnetic field that it may once have had.

Many scientists suspect that Venus has a stronger and thicker lithosphere than Earth. If this is true, which of the following could explain it?

The high surface temperature that has "baked out" all the liquid water from Venus’s crust and mantle

All the following statements about Venus are true. Which one offers evidence of a global repaving about a billion years ago?

Venus has relatively few impact craters and these craters are distributed fairly evenly over the entire planet.

Which of the following best explain what we think happened to outgassed water vapor on Venus?

Ultraviolet light split the water molecules, and the hydrogen then escaped to space.

Why are there fewer large impact craters on the Earth’s seafloor than on the continents?

The crust on seafloors is younger than on continents, so it has had less time in which to suffer impacts.

Which two factors are most important to the existence of plate tectonics on Earth?

mantle convection and a thin lithosphere

Why does Earth have so little carbon dioxide in its atmosphere compared to Venus?

Earth has just as much carbon dioxide as Venus, but most of it is locked up in carbonate rocks rather than being free in the atmosphere.

Which two factors are critical to the existence of the carbon dioxide (CO2) cycle on Earth?

plate tectonics and liquid water oceans

Suppose Earth were to cool down a little. How would the carbon dioxide cycle tend to restore temperatures to normal?

Cooler temperatures lead to slower formation of carbonate minerals in the ocean, so carbon dioxide released by volcanism builds up in the atmosphere and strengthens the greenhouse effect.

Which of the following correctly lists two key pieces of evidence that, together, indicate that we should expect human activity to cause global warming?

(1) Carbon dioxide tends to make planets warmer than they would be otherwise; (2) Measurements demonstrate that human activity is raising the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.

The choices below describe four hypothetical planets. Which one would you expect to have the hottest interior? (Assume the planets orbit a star just like the Sun and that they are all the same age as the planets in our solar system.)

Size: twice as big as Earth. Distance from Sun: same as Mercury. Rotation rate: once every 6 months.

The choices below describe four hypothetical planets. Which one’s surface would you expect to be most crowded with impact craters? (Assume the planets orbit a star just like the Sun and that they are all the same age as the planets in our solar system.)

Size: same as the Moon. Distance from Sun: same as Mars. Rotation rate: once every 10 days.

The choices below describe four hypothetical planets. Which one would you expect to have the most features of erosion? (Assume the planets orbit a star just like the Sun and that they are all the same age as the planets in our solar system.)

Size: same as Venus. Distance from Sun: same as Mars. Rotation rate: once every 25 hours.

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