|Why the planets show certain colors when we see
them from Earth?
|Question Date: 2005-12-08|
When we look at the other planets we see different
colors because we are looking at different
surfaces. When we look at VENUS, we are looking at
the top of the atmosphere of Venus. Venus is
permanently shrouded in clouds and when sun light
falls on the clouds from above, the clouds REFLECT
the light. Hence Venus appears white and BRIGHT.
When we look at Mars we are actually seeing the
rocky surface of mars. Now Mars has a thin coating
of RUST (iron oxide called the mineral hematite,
Fe2O3) that coats the
surface. Just like rust on a piece of metal left
outside on Earth. Hence when we look at Mars we
see RED, the color of RUST.
When we look at
the Moon we are seeing light that is reflected off
the surface rocks. These rocks are of two types:
the highland area is rock type called
anorthosite...mainly feldspar which reflects light
and is whitish. Then there is another rock called
basalt that is DARK. Go out tonight and look at
the moon; can you see the two different types of
rocks based on the brightness???
Different planets are made of different kinds of
matter, and as such, they reflect different
frequencies of light, thus having different
colors, for the same reason anything else have
different colors. In the case of the planets,
these colors are determined to a large extent by
what kind of compounds can exist on them, and that
is determined by their temperatures.
The planets appear as having different colors
because of the things on their surface. For
example, Mercury appears grey because it is made
up of rocks of the same color. Venus is
yellowish-white because of the sulfuric acid
clouds. Mars is red and orange based on the rusty
rocks on its surface. Jupiter and Saturn have
ammonia clouds which leads to a white or pale
yellow. Uranus appears light blue due to methane
NASA has recently launched the
Cassini spacecraft with some beautiful images of
Saturn and its biggest moon called Titan. Check
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