These questions are intended to make you think about the relevant topics for the exam. They are not necessarily the exam questions themselves.
The exam will consist of about 100 multiple choice questions and 5 or 6 short answer questions. About 35 of the multiple choice questions and ALL of the short answer questions will address the last portion of the course. The other 50-60 multiple choice questions will be taken nearly word for word from the previous three exams (i.e. know how to answer simple variants of the questions from previous exams). The questions will primarily address topics covered in the lectures. The lecture notes should be your primary guide to preparing for the test. The readings in the texts should help clarify the lecture notes. The test will contain a few general questions from the recent web readings.
All relevant equations will be provided at the top of the exam.
This test covers material in lectures 31 through 39 as outlined on the lecture notes web page. Specifically all of the material beginning with Mars through the end of the semester.
What are the principal similarities and differences between Mars and the Earth? What is the atmosphere of Mars made of? What is the atmospheric pressure there? How does the temperature of the Martian surface compare with the freezing point of water? What are the Martian polar caps made of?
What interesting surface features are there on Mars? How recently has Mars been geologically active? How cratered is the Martian surface? Why are the craters eroded? What are Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris?
What evidence is there that liquid water was present on Mars in the distant past? When did this water flow on Mars? How do we know when that was? What does it say about the past Martian climate (i.e. what would have made Mars warmer back then)? How has the Martian atmosphere most likely evolved over time? Where is the Martian water today?
What makes us believe that some meteorites are from the surface of Mars? How do they get here? How do we definitively identify some meteorites as coming from Mars? How could Mars be responsible for life on Earth?
Why is Mars an interesting place to go to learn about the origins of life on Earth? Why can't the same questions be answered on Earth?
How many Jovian planets are there? What are they primarily made of? What is their interior structure like? What do you find at their cores? What are their clouds composed of? What are the major features of their atmospheres (how are the clouds arranged)? How do their satellites compare in size to the terrestrial planets? Which Jovian planets have rings? What is the Great Red Spot? How big is it? Is it permanent? Why isn't Jupiter perfectly round when viewed through a telescope? Why do planet's have magnetic fields? What makes Jupiter's magnetic field so large? Why are Saturn's cloud features more subdued than Jupiter's?
Why does Jupiter emit twice as much energy as it receives from the Sun? Why isn't Jupiter a star? In what ways does it resemble a star? How does thermonuclear fusion work? Why does thermonuclear fusion require high temperatures? How high? Roughly what fraction of the mass is converted into energy when hydrogen fuses into helium? How is all this related to Einstein's famous formula, E=mc2? What is a "brown dwarf" star? How much more massive would Jupiter have to be in order to be a star?
Which Jovian planets have "large" satellites? How do these satellites compare in size to the Earth's Moon and the terrestrial planets? What are the names of the four Galilean satellites of Jupiter in order going outward from the planet? Why are they called Galilean satellites? What is the largest satellite in the Solar System and how does it compare in size to Mercury? What other satellite is larger than Mercury?
Given it's size why would you expect Io to be geologically inactive? Why does it turn out to be the most volcanically active object in the Solar System? What is the nature of the outer covering of Europa? Why do we expect to find liquid water under the frozen surface? What evidence is there that this surface thawed in recent history? Why is this a likely place to look for life? Why isn't Europa as geologically active as Io?
What parallels are there between the structure of Ganymede and the Earth? Which satellite has an atmosphere similar to Earth's in terms of composition and pressure (Titan)? How can an object with such weak gravity hold on to such a thick atmosphere? Why can't we easily see the surface of this satellite? What liquids may fall as rain and form lakes on this object? Why is this moon an interesting place to explore the origins of life?
What are the smaller moons of the outer planets made of? What is the Roche limit and what is its relationship to planetary rings. Why can rings form only inside of the Roche limit? Why can satellites be found inside of the Roche limit? What are Saturn's rings made of? What makes gaps in the rings?
What was the first planet discovered in the modern era? How was it found? How are Uranus and Neptune fundamentally different from Jupiter and Saturn? How is the discovery of Neptune an illustration of the Scientific method?
What are the arguments for and against Pluto being considered a major planet? How big it its satellite Charon? How is Pluto related to the outer cometary/asteroid belt known as the Kuiper belt? Pluto proabably resembles which big satellite of a Jovian Planet? What are the similar aspects of Pluto and Triton?
Why does the asteroid belt exist? Where is it located in the Solar System? How are pieces of these objects related to meteorites we recover here on Earth? Are the asteroids we see in the asteroid belt today the same ones that were there 4.5 billion years ago?
What is the difference between a meteor and a meteorite? How do we know that some meteorites came from specific asteroids? Why types of meteorites are there? Which are the most common? How are iron meteorites created? How do we know that iron meteorites cooled very slowly in the cores of large asteroids? Why are stony meteorites called chondrites? Why do iron meteorites represent the majority of meteorite "finds" even though they are a small fraction of "falls"? What are carbonaceous chondrites and how do they relate to the origins of life?
What is the nucleus of a comet composed of? How large is it? What role did comet nuclei have in the formation of the Solar System? If the nucleus is so small, why do we see comets as such spectacular phenomena on the sky? What fraction of the time is a cometary nucleus close enough to the Sun to produce the clouds of dust and gas that make a comet "interesting"? What is the Oort Cloud? Why do comet tails always point away from the Sun? How are "short period" comets created? Why are some asteroids likely "dead" (inactive) short period comets?
How are meteor showers and comets related? Why do meteor showers consistently occur on particular dates on the calendar? What is meant by the "radiant" of a meteor shower? Why has the Leonid meteor shower been spectacular at 33-year intervals? How do you observe a meteor shower? What do you expect to see?