Jovian vs Terrestrial Planets

The War of the Worlds

Terrestrial Planets

  • Terrestrial means 'Earth-like' due to 'Terra' meaning 'Earth' in Latin
  • There are four Terrestrial planets in our Solar System, which include Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars
  • These planets tend to be smaller, have rocky surfaces with metals in their interior, and warmer as they tend to be found much closer to their parent stars than Jovian planets, they also tend to have more surface features like volcanoes, valleys, mountains, and craters than Jovian planets which are largely gas
  • Terrestrial atmospheres tend to be made of more oxygen, nitrogen, and argon than Jovian planets
  • The atmospheres of our Solar System's Terrestrial planets are as follows: Mercury has almost no atmosphere due to its proximity with the sun, Venus has a very thick atmosphere with mostly carbon dioxide that traps a lot of heat from the sun and raises planetary temperatures, Earth has an atmosphere of mostly nitrogen and oxygen which make up 98% of the total atmosphere, and Mars has a thinner atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide with some nitrogen and argon present
  • Terrestrial planets tend to have relatively smaller moons than Jovian planets

Jovian Planets

  • Jovian means 'Jupiter-like' due to 'Jove' meaning 'Jupiter'
  • Jovian planets are also commonly called 'gas giants' due to their typical nature as being large and made mostly of gas
  • There are four Jovian planets in our Solar System, which include Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune
  • These planets tend to be larger, be made of mostly gas with just a small solid core, and colder as they tend to be found further from their parent stars than Terrestrial planets
  • Jovian planets do not have a solid surface and usually just a small solid core
  • Over 100 Jovian planets have been found in other stellar systems with almost all of them being much closer to their star than the ones in our system
  • The atmospheres of our Solar System's Jovian planets are mostly made of hydrogen and helium, with some amounts of water, ammonia, and methane typically also being present
  • Differences in these gasses and temperature are what cause the Jovian planets in our system to take up multiple colors across their visible 'surfaces' rather than any sort of actual topographical changes

Planets that are neither Terrestrial nor Jovian

  • Pluto is the only body in our Solar System that has ever been classified as a planet that's neither Terrestrial nor Jovian
  • Pluto may actually be little more than a giant comet - hardly even a dwarf planet
  • Pluto flies in an elliptical orbit, has a relatively very large moon, has a changing atmosphere, and is made of mostly rock, ice, and gas like the comets found beyond Neptune
  • Pluto is neither truly rocky like Terrestrial planets, nor gassy like Jovian planets

The whole Solar System compared for size, Terrestrial and Jovian

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