planetary science


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Related to planetary science: astronomy

planetary science

or

planetology,

study of planets and planetary systemsplanetary system,
a star and all the celestial bodies bound to it by gravity, especially planets and their natural satellites. Until the last decade of the 20th cent., the only planetary system known was the solar system, which comprises the sun and the surrounding planets,
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 as a whole. Planetary science applies the theories and methods of traditional disciplines such as astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics to the study of the origin, composition, and distribution of matter in planetary systems, especially the evolution and structure of planetsplanet
[Gr.,=wanderer], a large nonluminous body of rock or gas that orbits the sun or another star, has a rounded shape due to gravity, and has cleared its orbit of smaller objects.
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 and their natural satellitessatellite, natural,
celestial body orbiting a planet, dwarf planet, asteroid, or star of a larger size. The most familiar natural satellite is the earth's moon; thus, satellites of other planets are often referred to as moons.
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. The study of planetary systems initially focused on the earth and moon. It was extended to include the other solar planets and their satellites with advances in astronomy, and increased in significance as the lunar and planetary probes of the last half of the 20th cent. returned more and more data. Planetary science burst out of the confines of the solar system with the discovery of extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, in 1995, and has been greatly aided by the launches of the CoRoT (2006) and Kepler (2009) observatories. Additional discovery milestones have included the identification of extrasolar multiple-planet systems in 1999, of an extrasolar planet nearly as old as the universe in 2003, of an extrasolar planet smaller than Mercury in 2013, of a nearly earth-sized extrasolar planet orbiting a star in the habitable zone in 2014, and of seven earth-sized extrasolar planets—at least three of which are in the habitable zone—orbiting an ultracool dwarf star in 2016. Planetary science is also concerned with the study of life on other planets (see exobiologyexobiology
or astrobiology,
search for extraterrestrial life within the solar system and throughout the universe. Philosophical speculation that there might be other worlds similar to ours dates back to the ancient Chinese and Greeks.
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).
References in periodicals archive ?
NASA Planetary Science Division director Jim Green stated that a powerful magnetic bipole placed at Mars' L1 Lagrange Point could deflect solar winds.
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Combining superb photographs, explanatory diagrams, and scientific information conveyed via an engaging, entertaining, and amusing writing style, planetary science experts Baker (physics, Austin College) and Ratcliff (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA) translate the "wow" factor of our solar system into accessible explanations for students and general readers.