Terrestrial Planets

The Terrestrial Planets (CCU)

Unit 5

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the process of cratering of planetary surfaces and tell how craters can be used to infer the relative ages of the surfaces.
  • Compare and contrast the geology of the four terrestrial planets.
  • Compare and contrast the weather systems of the four terrestrial planets.
  • List the major surface features on each planet and describe how they were formed.
  • Understand the roles of cratering, volcanism, and tectonics in the shaping of the planets’ surfaces.
  • Apply the concept of the greenhouse effect to the atmospheres of Earth and Venus.


Comparative Meteorology

  • Composition of atmospheres
  • Formation of atmospheres
  • Weathering effects on the planets’ surfaces.

Comparative Geology

  • Tectonics
  • Volcanic activity
  • Mountain building
  • Erosion


  • Used for understanding the other planets.
  • Atmosphere
  • Geology
  • Magnetic Field


  • Clouds, atmosphere, and surface temperature
  • Active volcanic surface


  • Geologic features
  • Thin atmosphere


  • Virtually no atmosphere (trace helium)
  • Cratered surface

Class Notes – Terrestrial Planets


Online Homework

Read Earth, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars and/or Chapters 8 & 9 in Zeilik.

Read The Nine Planets.